AFF Suzuki Cup Group B Matchday 1

Syazwan Zainon celebrated his goal for Malaysia
Photo Courtesy AFF/ESPNFC

Yesterday sees the opening matches for group B in this years AFF Suzuki Cup which are composed of 2010 Champions Malaysia, 2008 Champions Vietnam, the exciting young team of Cambodia and the host nation Myanmar

Malaysia 3-2 Cambodia

With Vietnam and host nation Myanmar next for them, this is clearly an important game for Malaysia to win, while at the same time Cambodia being underdogs has nothing to lose in their opening match of the 2016 Suzuki Cup. It was the Cambodia who took the lead in just 8 minutes courtesy of the exciting prospect Chan Vathanaka who scored a goal despite the Malaysian players protesting that he was offside, but replay showed otherwise that the ball went to Vathanaka courtesy of a Malaysian player who kicked the ball to his direction which was the reason why he was not called offside. The Malaysian players continue to dominate the possession but the equalizer only arrived in the 37th minute after Syazwon Zainon scored after got away from his defender courtesy of his great first touch. After the Tigers scored the equalizer many believed that in the 2nd half they will win comfortably, but Vathanaka once again put Cambodia in front in the 59th minute, to prove that he can also score a goal even with defenders around him. However Amri Yahyah put his team level in the 69th minute from close range from Hazwan Bakri’s assist. Amri finally put Malaysia in front for the first time of the match in the 80th minute after another close range shot this time it was assisted by Safee Sali. Malaysia also hit the crossbar twice in the match which gave hope for the Cambodian players. However Malaysia showed their superiority and stole the match from them.

Myanmar 1-2 Vietnam

With Myanmar playing in front of their home crowd this is certainly not an easy game for the favorites of the group, and in just the 24th minute they were already 1-0 up thanks to Nguyen Van Quyet’s right foot that found the bottom left corner of the goal and left the keeper no chance to save it. The scored remained that way until the 73rd minute when Aung Thu equalizes the match for Myanmar with a fantastic goal when he scored from outside the box, which was assisted to him by Myo Ko Tun. However in the 80th minute Le Cong Vinh, the same player who clinched the 2008 championship for Vietnam scored the winning goal when he scored inside the box that found the top right corner of the goal to take all three points in this pivotal match up.  

AFF Suzuki Cup Group A Matchday 1

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. 

2016 AFF Suzuki Cup Group B Preview

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 

November 20,2016 

Malaysia vs Cambodia 3:00pm
Myanmar vs Vietnam 6:00pm

November 23,2016

Malaysia vs Vietnam 3:00pm
Myanmar vs Cambodia 6:00pm

November 26,2016

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

2016 AFF Suzuki Cup Group A Preview

Thailand players celebrate a goal during their match against
Photo Courtesy Rungroj Yongrit/European Pressphoto Agency

With the AFF Suzuki Cup only 2 days away. The preparations of all eight teams are the highest level to push themselves for the championship. In this article we will take a look on Group A which is also dubbed as the “Group of Death”.

Fifa Ranking 146
Coach: Kiatisuk “Zico” Senamuang
Captain: Theeraton Bunmathan
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Champion (1996,2000,2002,2014)
Key Players: Chanathip Songkrasin, Teerasil Dangda, Theeraton Bunmathan

Thailand is no doubt the most successful football team in the AFF region, not only winning the Suzuki Cup 4x before, But also showing great results in continental games during the qualifications of FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for AFC, Thailand is the only team from ASEAN to qualify to the final round of qualifiers and directly qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Aside from national competition. Thailand also has a great football league system, which is once again the best league system in ASEAN, with yearly qualifiers to the AFC Champions League, It helps Thailand to have a better quality of football because their clubs are playing against the top teams in Asia. Buriram United made it all the way through the quarterfinals of the 2013 AFC Champions League. With players like Chanatihip and Teerasil playing for Thailand this year, expect them to be a hard team to beat as they will try to defend their title. The War Elephants will open their title defense on Nov 19 when they face Indonesia.

Fifa Ranking 124
Coach: Thomas Dooley
Captain: Phil Younghusband
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Semi-Finalists (2010,2012,2014)
Key Players: Stephan Shrock, Phil Younghusband, Misagh Bahadoran

Philippines is cleary no doubt the most improved team in the ASEAN region for the last 5-6 years. In the past the Philippines is known in the AFF Suzuki Cup as the “whipping boys” due to the fact that the Philippines are always suffering huge defeats against the top nations in the South-East Asia region. But miracles do happen, so was the case during the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup which was famously known as the “miracle in Hanoi” helped catapult the popularity of football in the Philippines. During the tournament the Philippines didn’t lose in the group stages with 1-1 draw to Singapore, then the win that changes everything a 2-0 over the defending champions Vietnam and a 0-0 draw to Myanmar to finish 2nd in the group and qualify to the semi-finals for the first time in history. Despite losing to Indonesia 2-0 in aggregate. It was a sign of things to come as 6 years later the Azkals have earned the respect of fellow ASEAN teams and are now frequently having matches with a non-ASEAN team. With Shrock available for the Suzuki Cup the chances of the Philippines to win the competition just get better. 

Fifa Ranking 171
Coach: V. Sundramoothry
Captain: Shahril Ishak
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Champion (1998,2004,2007,2012)
Key Players: Khairul Amri, Shahril Ishak, Safuwan Baharudin

Singapore the first nation to win the AFF Suzuki Cup 4x is always one of the teams that you may not fancy winning in the beginning of the tournament but then all of a sudden they are playing in the finals where they are undefeated when reaching the finals. However coming in to the tournament, the Singapore football team are struggling to find a win as they were winless in their last six international matches with the win coming to Cambodia who they barely beat 1-0. Despite the  Lions should not be underestimated as they can be the most dangerous team if all their players are in the same wave length. For Singapore to win their 5th AFF Suzuki Cup, they need their key players especially Safuwan to be at their best as they will be the reason whether they will win the tournament or not.

Fifa Ranking 179
Coach: Alfred Riedl
Captain: Boaz Solossa
AFF Suzuki Cup Best Result: Runner-up (2000,2002,2004,2010)
Key Players: Boaz Solossa, Zulham Zamrun, Benny Wahyudi

Indonesia has the least number of playing times out of all the eight teams in the upcoming 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup because of their suspension on May 30,2015 that causes them to miss the entire 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification for AFC Second Round and as a result they will also not participate in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification third round. The AFF gave the Indonesia football assosiation until August 5,2016. If the suspension has not been lifted before that date they will not be able to participate for the 2016 Suzuki cup, however the suspension was lifted by FIFA on May 2016 which gave Indonesia less than five months to come up with a team for the AFF Suzuki Cup. Things are not clear on how Indonesia will perform in just their 5th,6th and 7th competitive matches since May 2015. 

2016 AFF Suzuki Cup Group A Schedule

November 19,2016
Thailand vs Indonesia 4:30pm
Philippines vs Singapore 8:00pm

November 22,2016

Thailand vs Singapore 4:30pm
Philippines vs Indonesia 8:00pm

November 25,2016

Indonesia vs Singapore* 8:00pm
Philippines vs Thailand 8:00pm

All matches will be played on Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan

*Will be held on Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila