Vietnam and Malaysia are deemed the favourites for the next stage in Group A of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018, reported the ESPN sport website.
The AFF Suzuki Cup will take place from November 8 to December 15 at 12 different stadiums in Southeast Asia.
Group A consists of Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
According to ESPN, Vietnam’s senior side has not played a lot of late and warmed up with a training camp in the Republic of Korea and friendly matches against local clubs. Qualification for the 2019 Asian Cup was impressive and there is a nucleus of young players that have come through the ranks together.
|Goalkeeper Dang Van Lam is viewed one of the most prominent players of Vietnam at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 (Photo: VNA)
Head coach Park Hang-seo has become a popular figure after leading Vietnam’s U23 team to a series of impressive results in continental tournaments. VNA
Additionally, goalkeeper Dang Van Lam is viewed one of the most prominent players of the team. “The goalkeeper has just broken into the national team and is set to be the No. 1 for a number of years”, ESPN wrote.
It continued that Vietnam have plenty of attacking and creative talents, therefore, there is a real chance of a repeat of Vietnam's 2008 AFF Cup success.
Meanwhile, the exploits of the U23 team this year have been a very welcome piece of good news that has helped lift some of the gloom in Malaysian football. The regional football tournament is a major test for the national team under manager Tan Cheng Hoe.
The 21-year-old Safawi Rasid has already proved to be one of the most exciting young talents in the region.
ESPN said Malaysia’s opening game in Cambodia is crucial. A win in Phnom Penh would get Malaysia's self-belief going and would also give the team a great chance of the last four.
Cambodia have lost most of their friendly matches of late due to the team’s experiments in tactical formations. Chan Vathanaka, the attacker known as CR11 started in the last edition of the AFF Cup and still has what it takes to shine on the regional stage.
Regarding Myanmar, after an encouraging 2017, results this year have been poor. However, the federation should be congratulated for arranging tests with China, Bolivia and Bahrain, they may have all ended in defeat but their true value should be revealed especially after a pre-tournament training camp in Qatar.
German coach Antoine Hey has plenty of experience in Europe and especially Africa. Moreover, Zaw Min Tun, who is playing for Thailand’s Chonburi club, is said to be the team’s pillar.
The squad made the last four two years ago. That was on home soil however and the target is to repeat the feat this time. Hence, the final game against Malaysia will be vital.
Laos have made progress lately as it is an organised team in friendly matches with pragmatic style.
Under the management of V Sundramoorthy, the team is expected to attain good results in the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup with while placing its hope on key man Khonesavanh Sihavong.