Legendary former Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic knows what it takes to win the AFF Suzuki Cup, having lead the Lions to three regional titles during his nine year spell in charge.
With that in mind, FOX Sports Asia decided to contact the former Lions coach to pick his brains about the upcoming AFF Championship.
Asked about who he fancies for the title, unlike most pundits, the former Singapore boss said he fancies the Lions to do well and even suggested that they could yet again go all the way.
“I expect that the 2016 Suzuki Cup will be very exciting to watch and it will be interesting to see who will qualify for semifinal,” he said.
“Thailand and Singapore in Group A, and Malaysia and Vietnam in Group B already have experience of winning this competition.
“In Group B, Myanmar will have the opportunity with fantastic support to make this competition one full of surprises. They have at least 12 players from the last Suzuki Cup. Now they have more experience in this competition and it will be very difficult for any team to face them on home ground.”
Myanmar could cause an upset.
“Also I think that the Vietnam team is very well prepared and is sure one of favourites for the semifinals.”
“Malaysia and Myanmar will fight for second place. Between them, even, goal difference may decide the final standing. Cambodia have done very well to qualify for final competition, but they will need more time and more international games to compete with rest of teams.”
Talking about Group A, Avramovic said that he expects Singapore to qualify at the expense of the Philippines and Indonesia.
“Thailand and Singapore should go through qualification as favourites,” he said.
“Singapore have players that have already participated and won this competition. The experience of Hassan (Sunny), Izwan (Mahbud), Juma’at (Jantan), Baihakki (Khaizan), (Mustafic) Fahrudin, Daniel (Bennett), Hariss (Harun), Safuwan (Baharudin), Shahdan (Sulaiman), Shahril (Ishak) and (Khairul) Amri plus the talent of Madhu (Mohana), Afiq (Yunos), Shakir (Hamzir), Anumanthan (Kumar), Faris (Ramli), Iqbal (Hussain) and Gabriel (Quak) should make a difference compared with rest of the teams. Their experience and talent can help them to be winners again.”
Singapore’s experience could prove vital.
On the subject of favourites Thailand he said, “Thailand at the moment is the most attractive, the best team to watch. The problem now is whether they will bring their best players or, because of the World Cup qualification games, will come with a mixed team. Still that team will be strong.”
“Now it is on the Philippines and Indonesia to show that they have improved and try to upset the favourites. The Philippines have improved in the last four years and is time to show that in a competition like Suzuki Cup. They have serious preparation, with a lot international games, and with home ground advantage it is time to show that on the field.
“Indonesia in last two-three competitions didn’t achieve what they should. They have lots of talented players, but the results are not coming. Possibly this competition is a chance to show different attitude and try to compete with rest of teams.”