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Five outstanding South-east Asian clubs: Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC

In football, success on and off the pitch is not only down to sheer talent and tactical genius. It requires years of meticulous planning throughout the structure of the football club.

So, we at, will be selecting and presenting a statistical as well as structural evaluation of five top clubs in the South East Asian region and would try to draw a verdict on why these teams are heads and shoulders above the rest. In this edition, we take a look at one of the most prestigious clubs in Vietnam, Hoang Anh Gia Lai.


Founded in 2002, Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) is a professional football club based in Pleiku in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. HAGL, also known as ‘Wood’, is a club with an illustrious history.

As soon as the club gained promotion to the V-League in 2003, it won two consecutive league titles in 2003 and 2004 as well as two Vietnamese Super Cup titles in 2004 and 2005. During its prime, the club could boast of its dream team which was made up of top players from Vietnam and Thailand - including Thai legend Kiatisuk Senamuang. Other famous players such as Van Sy Hung, Datsakorn Thonglao, Lee Nguyen and Kesley Alves also ploughed their trade at the club. Despite the recent trophy draught, HAGL is always known as one of biggest and most ambitious sides in Vietnam.

On the international stage, HAGL made appearances in the AFC Champions League in 2004 and 2005 but failed to advance from the group stage. The club also finished third in the ASEAN Club Championship 2005.


Pleiku Stadium was rebuilt in 2010 and is undoubtedly the best stadium in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. Consisting of only 12,000 seats, it is not the biggest but is by far the most modern stadium in the country. The home venue of HAGL is the only Vietnamese stadium with arched roofs covering four sides of the ground, providing shelter for all the seats. Pleiku Stadium also offers a variety of state-of-the-art function rooms.

Besides the modern outlook of the venue, Ham Rong Sports Training Centre is what the club can be proud of. Completed in 2007, the center is estimated to have cost US$4 million. Covering an area of over 5 hectares, it holds six training grounds, one modern indoor ground, one beach football pitch, four-star residential buildings, swimming-pools and many function areas. The standard of the centre's infrastructure is unmatched in the country.

It now caters to nearly 100 players and coaches of the senior and youth teams as well as the academy - all of whom live and train in this excellent place.


In 2007, HAGL announced a technical and marketing partnership with Premier League side Arsenal. The partnership led to the establishment and operation of an Arsenal elite football academy in Vietnam, technical support for the HAGL football team and various commercial, marketing and business support for the Vietnamese club.
The partnership is also an opportunity for Arsenal to further develop its club-related marketing and merchandising initiatives along with a community outreach programme through a football school and activities in Vietnam.


Besides Arsenal, the Laos Football Federation is also a big partner of HAGL. The club usually offers support to the Laos national football teams of all age groups by arranging friendlies and training camps in Ham Rong Sports Training Center. Moreover, as the reformed Laos Football League gears up for a kicks off in 2013, Hoang Anh Attapeu, an affiliated club of HAGL, will make its debut. Based in the Attapeu province of Laos, Hoang Anh Attapeu shares the same owner as HAGL. Top further strengthen the close relationship of both clubs, some Vietnamese and foreign players and staff  were loaned to the Laotian club.


The partnership between HAGL, Arsenal and JMG Academy led to the establishment of HAGL Arsenal JMG Academy. Since its birth in 2007, the academy has organised two recruitment periods in various parts of the country. The second drafting event, which was held in 2009, saw almost 10,000 U-13 boys participate - only 10 were selected. Under the guidance of French coach Guillaume Graechen, 27 youngsters are training at the academy at present. Last December, four of the best young players were sent to train with the Arsenal U-18 squad. Players in the first grade of the academy are expected to graduate in March 2013 and will represent Vietnam in the International U-19 Tournament in Japan later that month.


Evaldo Goncalves Bassey Akpan Phung Van Nhien
The Brazilian has always been ranked among the top strikers in the V-League. The natural goal-poacher is currently the all-time top scorer of the club with a record of 59 domestic goals. The Nigerian International only joined the club last season but quickly proved his quality with incredible reflexes and excellent anticipation. He was honoured with Best Goalkeeper of V-League 2012 Award. The 30-year-old skipper is a versatile player who can play well as a right-back or a winger. Considered a key player for the club, he has earned 19 caps with Vietnamese national team.


Doan Nguyen Duc 
The owner of HAGL Group is one of Vietnam’s richest men and is well-known for his passion for football. As a manager, he played the most important role in his club - signings of star players, sealing the  partnership with Arsenal and the establishing of the training center and academy. HAGL’s supporters always demonstrate great respect for him.

Choi Yoon-Kyum
Before joining the Pleiku-based club, the Korean coach had spells with K-League sides - Bucheon SK (2001-2002) and Daejeon Citizen FC (2003-2007). The 50-year-old's arrival made instant impact on the HAGL players as his training exercises significantly improved their physical fitness. After leading the club to 5th place of the V-League in the 2012 season, Choi has earned the trust of the club board.

In an exclusive interview, Huynh Mau, the CEO of HAGL, told Vietnam: “Our target is to win the V-League and National Cup titles in 2013. We are also aiming for good results in youth competitions.

Moreover, HAGL are preparing for the third recruiment period of HAGL Arsenal JMG Academy which is scheduled for May 2013.

Regarding the first class of the academy, we will send them abroad for many training drills. We are also happy that these young players will represent our country in the upcoming International U-19 Tournament in Japan.

Our long-term goal is to become the number-one club in Vietnam and gradually join continential competitions.

We will continue to invest in the youth system with the aim of providing best home-grown players to senior team as well as our partners. Hopefully, many of them will become key players of national team in near future.”


Backed by the famous business tycoon, HAGL possesses the finances to develop the club further. Instead of rushing into mega-money transfers, HAGL have given a significant investment into the youth system and thus, building a strong foundation for future success. While many Vietnamese clubs are severely hit by the economic recession, ‘Wood’ are still making constant and solid progress.

Besides the club's efforts in the youth development, HAGL proved their ambition this season with the signing of 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup champion, Ganiyu Oseni. The improvement of the current squad, the introduction of new young talents and the positive impact of new recruits would make HAGL a serious contender for titles. At this rate of progress, there’s strong belief that ‘Wood’ will fulfill their goals in the near future.

  • Final Rating

Stadium:  3



Facilities: 4.5

Youth System: 4



Club Affiliation: 4


Key Players: 3


Management: 3.5

Overall: 3.5