|Teerasil Dangda as he celebrates one of his goals against Australia
Photo Courtesy ESPNFC
The AFF Suzuki Cup 2016 officially kicked off last night in the Philippines for Group A actions, which are composed of the regining champions Thailand, 4x Champions Singapore, 4x Runnner Up Indonesia and 3x Semi-finalists the Philippines.
Thailand 4-2 Indonesia
The competition has been opened up by the reigning champions Thailand and Indonesia, and the War Elephants were already 1-0 to the good thanks to a volley goal by Peerapat Notchaiya after the defense of Indonesia were caught being lazy in their own penalty box. Even though Thailand had the lead, it was Indonesia who became the better team as the half went by, with multiple chances and dominating the possesions. But with another bad defending in the box the War Elephants took a 2-0 lead courtesy of Teerasil Dangda who tapped in a missed kick clearance by the Indonesian defender, Teerasil also redeemed himself with that goal after he hit the crossbar earlier in the half. Things are looking good for the defending champions until Boaz Solossa headed the ball in to the goal in the 53rd minute to put his team back in to the match. Then just 3 minutes later Lerby Eliandry equalizes the game after an almost exact same goal. The Thailand defense were caught napping on the two goals that they conceded. However things went back to plan for them in the 79th minute when Dangda scored his second goal of the game from outside the box. Then he scored his hat-trick in the 90+4th minute to ensure that there is no more comeback for the Indonesians.
Philippines 0-0 Singapore
The Azkals and the Lions were the second game scheduled, after the amazing game prior, fans are hoping the same thing for this particular match-up, but instead this match turned into a fouls galore. Which saw a number amount of bookings for both teams and also a straight red for Hafiz Sujad after a dangerous challenge to Phil Younghusband. The entire match has only 1 story throughout. The Philippines attacking hard while the Singaporeans are contented of just defending hard in the back and hope for the draw. The chances are hard to come by for the Philippines, with Shrock only had the best chance in the first half with a great dipping free kick. However, the best chances of the Azkals belonged to Hikaru Minegishi who forced Sunny two great saves to keep the ensure that his team will leave the match with a point.
|Myanmar fans cheering for their team
Photo Courtesy AFF
Despite not having the same attention as Group A. The Group B of this edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup is also promises to be a tight group for the battle of the top two position places available to advance to the semi-finals.
Fifa Ranking 156
Coach: Gerd Zeise
Captain: Yan Aung Kyaw
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Semi-finalists (2004)
Key Players: Yan Aung Kyaw, Zaw Min Tun, David Htan
Myanmar are looking to use the home crowd to their advatange as they plan to advance in the semi-finals for the first time since 2004. The majority of the Myanmar squad are in their early 20’s, so despite what will be the result of the tournament for them, it is almost certain that the White Angels will just keep on improving in the future as they continue to enhance the abilities of their young players. The Myanmar U-23 team finished 2nd place in the SEA Games 2015 where they lose to Thailand 3-0.
Fifa Ranking 136
Coach: Nguyen Huu Thang
Captain: Le Cong Vinh
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Champion (2008)
Key Players: Pham Thanh Luong, Le Cong Vinh, Nguyen Trong Hoang
Vietnam are very eager to win another AFF Suzuki Cup after first winning it in 2008 where they beat Thailand 3-2 on aggregate thanks to a 90+4th minute goal by Le Cong Vinh to give Vietnam their first ever title in the AFF Suzuki Cup. But since the 2008 edition, Vietnam has never reached the finals of the competition again. However with a mixture of veteran and young players, the Vietnamese players are hoping that they can once again lift the trophy and be called the best team in ASEAN atleast for the next two years. Le Cong Vinh who will turn 31 next month will be hoping to add to his 49 international goals to help Vietnam win their 2nd title.
Fifa Ranking 167
Coach: Lee Tae-Hoon
Captain: Um Sereyorth
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Group Stages (1996,2000,2002,2004,2008)
Key Players: Chan Vathanaka, Chhin Chheoun, Prak Mony Udom
Cambodia returned to the AFF Suzuki Cup final round after missing out on the last three editions. Despite not yet going beyond the group stages of the competition, the Cambodian players can use their 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Asia Second Round where they are grouped with Japan, Syria, Singapore and Afghanistan as an experience as a stepping stone towards a better future for Cambodian football. Chan Vathanaka is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle for Cambodia if they want to progress to the semi-finals for the first time. He needs to play consistent every game to give his country a chance in this edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Fifa Ranking 164
Coach: Ong Kim Swee
Captain: Amri Yahyah
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Champion (2010)
Key Players: Amri Yahyah, Safee Sali, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha
Malaysia are looking to forget the nightmares of the 2014 finals where they were beaten by Thailand 4-3 on aggregate despite leading by 3-2 on aggregate with 8 minutes left in the 2nd leg. The Harimau Malaysia will enter the competition without the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup top scorer Safiq Rahim due to the midfielders retirement on international duties. Despite this the Malaysian team is still stacked with quality players that can fill in the place of Safiq Rahim, there is always the ever present threat of Safee Sali and Norshahrul in front, but their captain Amri Yahyah will be the important piece of the puzzle on this run of Malaysia in this years competition to have a chance on regaining their title.
2016 AFF Suzuki Cup Group B Schedule
Malaysia vs Cambodia 3:00pm
Myanmar vs Vietnam 6:00pm
Malaysia vs Vietnam 3:00pm
Myanmar vs Cambodia 6:00pm
Vietnam vs Cambodia* 6:00pm
Myanmar vs Malaysia 6:00pm
All matches are in Myanmar local time (UTC +6:30)
All matches will be played on Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon
*Will be held on Wunna Theikdi Stadium in Naypyidaw