Vietnam's opponents get AFF Cup boost as talents return from Europe

By Vy Anh   December 2, 2021 | 06:29 pm PT
Vietnam's opponents get AFF Cup boost as talents return from Europe
Thanawat Suengchitthawon, one of Thailand's biggest talents, is playing for Premier League club Leicester City. Photo courtesy of Leicester City
Many Southeast Asian teams have called up their stars playing for European clubs to compete in AFF Cup.

Thailand have three players competing in Europe: keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, defender Jonatham Khemdee and midfielder Thanawat Suengchitthawon.

Thamsatchanan is playing for Belgian club OH Leuven, while Khemdee is signed to Danish club Odense Boldkub. Suengchitthawon is competing for a regular spot at English Premier League club Leicester City.

The Philippines have defender Jesper Nyholm, who is playing in Sweden. Nyholm is eligible to play for both Sweden and the Philippines, but decided to choose the latter earlier this year. Striker Angel Guirado is also an important player with stints in Spain and Gibraltar in recent years.

Indonesia put expectations on Elgan Bagot, a young defender at English club Ipswich Town. Bagot has received interest from big clubs like Manchester United, Everton and West Ham this year, but decided to extend his contract with Ipswich. Another young talent is midfielder Witan Sulaeman, who is playing in Poland for Lechia Gdansk.

Malaysia called up right-back Dion Cools, who is playing for the top club in Denmark, Midtjylland. Last season, Cools played three games in UEFA Champions League. Before choosing Malaysia as his national team, Cools played for the U18, U19 and U21 teams in Belgium. On the offensive line, Malaysia also added young striker Luqman Hakim, who is playing for Belgian club Kortrijk.

Singapore put their hopes on key striker Ikhsan Fandi. The 22-year-old is a regular choice at Norwegian club FK Jerv.

Laos have striker Billy Ketkeophomphone with many years of experience in France. He's now playing for French club Dunkerque.

Vietnam, the defending champions, used to have Doan Van Hau, who moved to Dutch club Heerenveen in 2019 but returned one year later after an unsuccessful stint. Hau will miss AFF Cup this year due to injury.

For AFF Cup, Vietnam are in group B with Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, and Cambodia. The tournament will be played in Singapore from Dec. 5 to Jan. 1.

All Vietnam's games will be reported live on VnExpress International.

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