AFF Suzuki Cup 2018: Team of the Tournament

Following the conclusion of a riveting AFF Suzuki Cup 2018, FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan picks his Team of the Tournament, featuring the best eleven starters, coach and seven substitutes.

So after over a month of enthralling action, it is Vietnam who have been crowned champions of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.

Few would argue the Golden Dragons were deserving winners considering they proved to be the best side in the competition, which culminated in them beating a brave Malaysia outfit 3-2 on aggregate in the final.

As the dust settles, FOX Sports Asia picks the best players throughout the course of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 and, in tribute to the newly-crowned champions, the formation will set up in Vietnam’s 3-4-3.

GOALKEEPER: Dang Van Lam (Vietnam)

Van Lam showing off his aerial prowess.

In a clear two-way battle to get the nod between the posts, it was Dang Van Lam who just edged out Malaysia’s Farizal Marlias.

Although Farizal caught the eye with his “sweeper-keeper” ability, Van Lam was happy to keep things simple and impressed with his shot-stopping, aerial prowess and dominance in the box.

CENTRE-BACK: Shahrul Saad (Malaysia)

Shahrul looks to get Malaysia on the front foot.

Despite starting the tournament as the more junior of Malaysia’s centre-backs, Shahrul Saad has now emerged as a genuine leader in the side.

While Aidil Zafuan still provided the calming influence, Shahrul stepped up to show that he can comfortably match it with some of Southeast Asia’s top strikers and – at 25 – can still get even better.

CENTRE-BACK: Pansa Hemviboon (Thailand)

Pansa celebrates one of his three goals at AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.

Although it was not to be for Thailand in their quest for a 6th Suzuki Cup title, there were a couple of players to emerge with their reputations enhanced and Pansa Hemviboon was certainly one.

The towering centre-back looked composed in defence but also pushed forward to good effect, displaying his attacking prowess with three goals against Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

CENTRE-BACK: Que Ngoc Hai (Vietnam)

Calm and composed in defence.

Plenty has been said about Que Ngoc Hai’s remarkable transformation from hot-headed youngster to exemplary leader, and that was exactly what he was for Vietnam.

With Nguyen Van Quyet spending plenty of the campaign on the bench, Ngoc Hai took over the captaincy and was a steadying presence alongside the younger Tran Dinh Trong and Do Duy Manh.

RIGHT WING-BACK: Syahmi Safari (Malaysia)

Syahmi has emerged as one of Malaysia’s brightest young prospects.

One of the revelations of the tournament, it will be interesting to see where Syahmi Safari goes from here considering he is still only 20.

Be it in defence or bombing forward, the Selangor youngster was equally impressive and produced a real highlight with his stunning goal against Thailand.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Thitipan Puangchan (Thailand)

Has Thitipan done enough to secure his place in Thailand’s starting XI for the Asian Cup?

Like Pansa, Thitipan Puangchan was one of the few Thailand players who can look back on their campaign with satisfaction.

The all-action midfielder effectively had to do double the work considering his partner Tanaboon Kesarat cut an anonymous figure throughout the tournament, and provided the War Elephants will plenty of drive from the middle of the park.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Syamer Kutty Abba (Malaysia)

Syamer providing a combative presence in the engine room.

Both of Malaysia’s centre midfielders were pivotal in Malaysia’s run to the final, although Syamer Kutty Abba was arguably the more impressive of the two.

While Akram Mahinan offered a shield in front of defence, Syamer performed that role while also pushing forward to good effect and constantly offered Harimau Malaya an extra man in the attacking third.

LEFT WING-BACK: Doan Van Hau (Vietnam)

Van Hau unstoppable in full flight.

At the tender age of 19, Doan Van Hau has already established himself as a key player for Vietnam and looks to have an exceedingly bright future.

Apart from the usual energy and width that wing-backs are expected to provide, Van Hau also possesses the vision and passing ability of a playmaker and could even be deployed in that role later in his career.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: Nguyen Quang Hai (Vietnam)

Quang Hai proving impossible to stop in full flight.

Following in the footsteps of a similar skillful, left-footed playmaker, there was no better choice than Nguyen Quang Hai for the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

He may have finished as Vietnam’s joint-second top scorer with three goals, but it was his overall contribution that really mattered.

STRIKER: Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Malaysia)

The golden oldie was a star for Malaysia.

In a tournament that was littered with young stars rising to the occasion, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha provided the feel-good factor for the older generation.

When netted against Cambodia on Match Day 1, he gained the accolade of having scored at four separate Suzuki Cups and went on to grab another four goals as Malaysia came up just short of a second title.

STRIKER: Nguyen Anh Duc (Vietnam)

Vietnam’s man for the big occasion.

Four goals may not seem like the greatest of hauls from an out-and-out striker, but Nguyen Anh Duc deserves his place through his ability to strike when it mattered most.

His opener against Philippines in the first leg of the semi-finals put the Vietnamese in a strong position to build on, but his most important contribution was undoubtedly the winning goal in the final – a sweetly-struck volley on his weaker left foot from a Quang Hai cross.

COACH: Park Hang-seo (Vietnam)

Park Hang-seo has had an amazing 12 months in charge of Vietnam.

Malaysia’s Tan Cheng Hoe should get plenty of credit for exceeding expectations by reaching the final, but – considering Vietnam were widely recognised as the best team of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 – it is impossible to look past Park Hang-seo.

The South Korean has revolutionised Vietnamese football but it also unafraid to blood youngsters on the biggest stage, and had his faith fully repaid by the likes of Van Hau, Phan Van Duc and Do Hung Dung.

SUBSTITUTES

Goalkeeper: Farizal Marlias (Malaysia)
Centre-back: Tran Dinh Trong (Vietnam)
Wing-back: Nguyen Trong Hoang (Vietnam)
Defensive midfield: Akram Mahinan (Malaysia)
Attacking midfield: Stephan Schrock (Philippines)
Winger: Nguyen Cong Phuong (Vietnam)
Striker: Adisak Kraisorn (Thailand)

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