The day of the AFF Suzuki Cup has arrived! The pan-ASEAN tournament returns after a two-year absence and will see teams compete in a new format. With the participation being increased from 8 to 10, the stakes are also high. And so we take a look at how well these 10 teams are positioned going into the competition, based on recent form.
=10 Myanmar (1W, 1D, 5L)
Myanmar are worst suited heading into the competition, despite the fact that they share the last spot with Cambodia. The Asian Lions have won just 1 of their last 7 matches, a narrow 1-0 win against Macau back in March.
Since then, they have lost all four of their matches, suffering big defeats in almost every match.
=10 Cambodia (1W, 1D, 5L)
Cambodia are in a bit of a turmoil heading into the AFF Suzuki Cup. The situation regarding the role of head coach Keisuke Honda is still unclear, with reports coming in that the Japanese is set to miss out on their opening fixture.
Moreover, their form heading into the competition is cause for concern as well, with the Southeast Asian side winning just 1 of their last 7 matches.
#8 Timor-Leste (1W, 2D, 4L)
Timor-Leste had to work harder than the other nine teams to find themselves in the running for the AFF Suzuki Cup. The Little Samba Nation were up against Brunei in a bid to seal the 10th spot in the competition.
They did manage to get better of the opposition over the course of two legs, due to a strong first-leg display. Unfortunately for Timor-Leste, their 3-1 win over Brunei in the first qualification leg was their only success over the course of last 7 games.
=7 Laos (2W, 1D, 4L)
Laos have been drafted in the easier of the two groups, and have a great chance of qualifying. However, their form prior to the tournament is a little worrying.
The Southeast Asian nation did well in the recently concluded Solidarity Cup, finishing third in the competition. However, it has all been downhill since with Thimsad losing 3 out of their 4 most recent matches.
=7 Thailand (2W, 1D, 4L)
While Thailand may be the best side in the history of the competition, they are certainly not the best when it comes to recent form.
The War Elephants have the same record as that of Laos, winning 2, drawing 1, and losing 4 of their last 7 matches. Worrying signs before the start of the competition for Milovan Rajevac and his men.
#5 Malaysia (4W, 0D, 3L)
Joining Laos in group A is Malaysia, who are most likely to compete with them for a top two spot. However, if we go by recent form, the Harimau Malaya are better positioned than their ASEAN opponents to progress.
4 Wins and 3 losses in the last 7 matches mean that Malaysia are sitting 5th on the form table, ahead of the most successful side in the history of the competition- Thailand.
#4 Indonesia (3W, 2D, 2L)
Historically, the AFF Suzuki Cup has proven to be a source of disappointment for Indonesia. Tim Garuda are statistically the unluckiest side in the competition, having finished as runners-up on 5 occasions despite not winning it once.
However, their recent form leading up to the tournament has been good. With a strong squad representing the nation in this edition, will this finally be the year Indonesia break the AFF curse?
#3 Singapore (4W, 1D, 2L)
Coming in at the third position, with 4 wins and 2 losses in their last 7 games, are Singapore. The Lions are heading into the competition after beating Mongolia, Cambodia, Fiji, and Maldives over the last few months.
However, Singapore are drawn in a difficult group containing the likes of perennial performers Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia. Nevertheless, going by the recent form, it is the other four teams who should be wary of the Lions.
=1 Philippines (2W, 5D, 0L)
All the pre-tournament build-up has touted the Philippines as one of the favourites to win the competition. The reason for that is the presence of high-profile personnel, such as manager Sven-Goran Erikkson and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
If we further take a look at their recent form, one would find that the Azkals are in top shape heading into the AFF Suzuki Cup, as they are unbeaten in their last 7 games.
#1 Vietnam (2W, 5D, 0L)
Joining the Philippines in the top spot based on form are Vietnam. The Golden Dragons are in stunning form heading into the competition and are also unbeaten in their last 7, winning 2 and drawing 5.
Moreover, Vietnam are drawn in a group containing the likes of Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, making them one of the favourites to progress to the next round of the competition.