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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


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