Three Southeast Asian teams travelled to UAE in order to participate in the AFC Asian Cup. One was sent packing from the group stage, while two progressed. Here, we take a look at who the best eleven were among those three nations – Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam.
GK: Michael Falkesgaard (Philippines)
Stepping in the hole left by Neil Etheridge, Michael Falkesgaard showed impressive form throughout the group stage. The Bangkok United goalkeeper was one of the few positives in the Azkals’ side who were dumped out of the competition without winning a single game.
He may have conceded seven goals but managed to make fourteen saves and three clearances, often keeping the deficit within Philippines’ reach.
CB: Alvaro Silva (Philippines)
Philippines were the only Southeast Asian team eliminated after the group stages. However, the Azkals have plenty of positives to take from their AFC Asian Cup debut.
One such positive was centre-back, Alvaro Silva. The Spanish-born defender played all three of Philippines group games and was rock solid at the back.
Silva made Twenty-four clearances from the back, while also making three crucial blocks across the group stage. Furthermore, the veteran defender was equally adept at playing the ball forward, as the Azkals looked to build from the back. He completed Eighty-one passes, maintaining a 78.6 per cent accuracy. Moreover, 50 per cent of his passes in the opposition half found one of his teammates. He also kept things clean across the three matches, conceding just three fouls.
CB: Que Ngoc Hai (Vietnam)
AFC Asian Cup 2019: Vietnam 2-0 Yemen – Que Ngoc Hai (65′)
One of the features of Vietnam going into the competition was their heavy reliance on defence. The Golden Dragons had conceded just 4 goals in their AFF Suzuki run just a month earlier, when they ended up lifting the title.
Starting in the centre of a ‘back three’, Que Ngoc Hai was Vietnam’s star defender in the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup. The 25-year-old maintained a 100 per cent tackle rate across the three matches, while also making Twenty clearances, four blocks, and one interception.
Ngoc Hai’s attacking stats were equally impressive, as he completed a staggering 107 passes maintaining almost 80 per cent passing accuracy. Moreover, nearly 60 per cent of his passes in the opposition half found a teammate. He also added a goal to his name, when he stepped up to convert a spot-kick against Yemen; a goal which effectively sealed Vietnam’s place in the Round-of-16.
CB: Pansa Hemviboon (Thailand)
Thailand’s rock at the back, Pansa Hemviboon proved his worth to the War Elephants yet again.
The Buriram United played two of Thailand’s three group games, including a 4-1 thrashing by India, and a 1-0 win over Bahrain. And while the scores do not read in his favour, statistics do.
Pansa maintained a 100 per cent tackle rate in the group stage, while also making 11 clearances, the most by any Thai defender. He also made two blocks and one interception, while completing Fifty-eight succesful passes.
LWB/LM: Chanathip Songkrasin (Thailand)
AFC Asian Cup 2019 Player of Day 6: CHANATHIP SONGKRASIN
The returning Chanathip Songkrasin provided a major boost to the War Elephants before their AFC Asian Cup campaign. The Consadole Sapporo star had to sit out the Suzuki Cup as he was based out of the domestic league. However, his return proved via he is one of Thailand’s most important players.
Chanathip enjoyed a disappointing outing in the group opener against India, and was taken off in the second half. However, he improved massively during the War Elephants second and third group matches, even scoring the winner against Bahrain.
However, the 25-year-old’s attacking contribution’s go far wider than just goals. He was brilliant in his passing as well, completing Eighty-one passes with an 84.4 per cent accuracy. Chanathip also manages seven successful dribbles.
CM: Stephan Schrock (Philippines)
Sven-Goran Eriksson decided to bench Philippines Mr Reliable Phil Younghusband for all of the Azkals’ group games. And in his absence, up stepped Stephan Schrock.
The former-Hoffenheim star was Philippines most important player across all three matches, despite the fact that they didn’t win any of their games.
Shrock also created history when scored the Azkals’ first and only goal of the competition when he netted late against Kyrgyz Republic. Furthermore, he completed Eleven dribbles, and made three key passes, while playing both as a wing back and a midfielder.
CM: Thitipan Puangchan (Thailand)
When his country needed a hero, Thitipan Puangchan popped up. The 25-year-old scored in the draw against UAE, effectively sending Thailand through to the knockout stages.
Overall, Thitipan had an excellent all-around performance in the War Elephants’ group stage campaign, as he made the difference in both attack and defence.
Apart from scoring a crucial goal, Thitipan also supplied two key passes, out of his Eighty-two successful ones. Defensively, the 25-year-old made seven clearances, eight interceptions, while making four tackles.
And these displays have earned Thitipan a move to the J-League as well, as the Thai League announced that he has joined newly promoted club Oita Trinita.
CM: Nguyen Quang Hai (Vietnam)
AFC Asian Cup 2019: Vietnam 1-0 Yemen – Nguyen Quang Hai (39′)
Big things are expected of Vietnam’s Nguyen Quang Hai, who despite being 21 years of age, is developing into their most important player. The AFF Suzuki Cup MVP showed just why he is so crucial to his team, with his splendid attacking displays.
The youngster scored his first goal of the competition via a stunning freekick, sending the Golden Dragons on their way to a massive win. He also completed 107 passes across the three matches, maintaining a 77 per cent accuracy.
RWB/RM: Tristan Do (Thailand)
Tristan Do was shifted to the position of the Right Wing-back by new coach Sirisak Yodyadthai for Thailand’s second and third group games. And while there are some flaws in the defensive aspect of his game, there can be no doubt about his attacking potential.
Tristan’s biggest contribution came when he ran through to a splendid pass to provide the assist for Chanathip’s goal in the second match. Apart from the assist, the wing-back also made five key passes in the opposition half, as he always looked to find a teammate in a forward position.
ST: Teerasil Dangda (Thailand)
Thailand’s AFC Asian Cup campaign was boosted by the return of experienced striker Teerasil Dangda. The Muangthong United striker was spending the season on loan at Sanfrecce Hiroshima and was therefore cut from the Thai Suzuki Cup squad.
Nevertheless, Teerasil immediately proved his worth on his return to the team, scoring the leveller against India.
Thailand’s captain also maintained a 70.9 per cent accuracy in his passing, while completing four successful dribbles.
The War Elephants would need Teerasil to find the back of the net again if they wish to progress even further in the competition.
ST: Nguyen Cong Phuong (Vietnam)
Another one of Vietnam’s AFF Suzuki Cup star, Nguyen Cong Phuong took the spot occupied by Nguyen Anh Duc less than a month ago. And he immediately made it his own by scoring Vietnam’s second goal in a 3-2 loss against Iraq.
As per the Golden Dragons’ gameplan, Cong Phuong always looked to drag the defenders out of their position and play the crucial passes. He also maintained a decent passing accuracy, completing 71.9 per cent of his passes, while also completing three successful dribbles.
Dang Van Lam
Pham Van Duc