Persib stay top in AFC Cup; Global claim first-ever triumph

Persib Bandung remain top of Group H in the AFC Cup despite playing out a 0-0 draw with Lao Toyota at the New Laos National Stadium on Wednesday.

Despite entering the clash as favourites to claim the win, the Indonesian Super League giants were unable to find a way past their stubborn opponents, who showed great resilience throughout the 90 minutes.

Nonetheless, the result keeps Persib unbeaten in the campaign with a two-point lead at the top, and they remain on course for a place in the Round of 16.

Meanwhile, Ayeyawady United were unable to fully capitalise on Persib’s slip-up as they were also held to a 0-0 draw by New Radiant at the Thuwunna Stadium to remain in second place.

Over in Group G, it was a monumental day for Philippine outfit Global as they beat nine-man Yadanarbon 4-1 to claim their maiden win in the tournament, in what was also the first match to be played at the new Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue.

Mark Hartmann got them on their way with a 16th-minute penalty after Renato Gonzalez’s freekick had been handled inside the box, although Yan Paing equalised for the visitors four minutes later.

However, the hosts reclaimed the lead through another Hartmann strike six minutes before halftime, before Misagh Bahadoran made it 3-1 in the 58th minute with a fine individual effort.

Things then got from bad to worse for the Myanmar National League outfit when Zaw Linn Tun was shown a straight red in the 70th minute, although Hartmann spurned an excellent chance to complete his hat-trick shortly after when his penalty was saved by Thiha Sithu.

But any hopes the visitors had of a comeback were ended in the 76th minute when they also had Tin Win Aung sent off for a second bookable offence, and Global went on to complete the rout six minutes from time when Gonzalez added a fourth from a freekick.

The result also means Global are back in the hunt for a place in the knockout round, after second-placed Pahang were beaten 3-1 by table-topping South China at the Mong Kok Stadium.

After Philip Chan had fired the hosts ahead in the 11th minute, Lo Kong Wai found the back of the net seven minutes into the second half to put them firmly in control of proceedings.

Jack Sealy then struck four minutes later to effectively put the result beyond doubt, although the Malaysian visitors did grab a consolation in the 62nd minute through a Dickson Nwakaeme strike.

Wednesday’s AFC Cup Results

Group G

South China 3-1 Pahang

Global 4-1 Yadanarbon

Group H

Ayeyawady United 0-0 New Radiant

Lao Toyota 0-0 Persib Bandung

Singapore to meet Indonesia; Thais face Malaysia, Vietnam

Hosts Singapore’s hopes of advancing to the semi-finals of the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were handed a boost on Wednesday after they were handed a fairly favourable draw.

Seeded as hosts for the Under-23 tournament, the Lions were drawn in Group A alongside Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Philippines.

With only the top two progressing to the last four, it looks like Singapore will be battling for qualification with the Indonesians and Myanmar.

Nonetheless, Cambodia will be confident in their prospects having recorded a 2-1 win over Singapore just last month, while Philippines have taken huge strides in recent years and are now considered a legitimate threat in the region.

But it appears most of the drama will come in Group B after defending champions Thailand were pitted against 2011 winners Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei Darussalam and Timor-Leste.

Under Kiatisuk Senamuang, who also guided the senior team to victory at the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, the Thais are favourites to finish top with Malaysia and Vietnam expected to battle it out for the second qualifying berth.

However, with the likes of Soukaphone Vongchiengkham and Ketsada Souksavanh to call upon, Laos could just spring an upset or two along the way.

2015 Southeast Asian Games Draw

Group A: Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines

Group B: Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei Darussalam, Timor-Leste

Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia to meet; Lions set for Japan duel

Three of Southeast Asia’s traditional heavyweights – Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – will face off in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are they were all drawn in Group F on Tuesday.

The draw for the second round of qualification took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and saw a total of ten teams from Southeast Asia find out their path to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which will see each of them play eight matches from June to next March.

Apart from the World Cup, the qualifiers will also double up for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which means Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all stand an excellent chance of progressing to the continent’s biggest tournament.

Although Iraq are favourites to finish top of Group F, the trio of Southeast Asian countries will all fancy their prospects of fighting it out for second place, given the remaining team is minnows Chinese Taipei.

Over in Group E, Singapore and Cambodia both face a tricky route to the next round after being pitted against Asian giants Japan, Syria and Afghanistan.

Malaysia find themselves in Group A along with regional rivals Timor-Leste, although they will be aware they will have to get a result against either United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Palestine to have any chance of advancing to the Asian Cup.

Neighbours Myanmar and Laos will meet in Group G along with Korea Republic, Kuwait and Lebanon, while Philippines face Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Korea DPR and Yemen in Group H.

2018 FIFA World Cup Second Round Qualifying Draw

Group A: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor Leste, Malaysia

Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh

Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong

Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam

Group E: Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia

Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei

Group G: Korea Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos

Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, Korea DPR, Yemen

Pahang handed first AFC defeat; victories for Persib, Ayeyawady

Malaysia Super League outfit Pahang’s unbeaten start in the 2015 AFC Cup came to an end on Wednesday after they were beaten 1-0 by Hong Kong’s South China in Group G.

The only goal of the game at the Darulmakmur Stadium arrived after 13 minutes when Chan Siu Ki received a neat past from Philip Chan with his back to goal, before swivelling and smashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Despite the support of their home crowd, Pahang rarely threatened – apart from a couple of threatening runs by R. Gopinathan – and looked bereft of ideas in the attacking third, clearly missing the foreign strike duo of Dickson Nwakaeme and Matias Conti.

The result means South China stay top with a maximum nine points from their opening three matches, while Tok Gajah remain second but are now only a point behind Myanmar’s Yadanarbon.

After starting their campaign with two straight defeats, Yadanarbon are finally off the mark after recording a comfortable 2-0 triumph over United Football League champions Global at the Mandalarthiri Stadium.

Following a goalless first half, Djedje Maximin broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute as he floated a lovely pass out right to find Thet Naing, before racing into the box to meet his return cross and send a firm first-time shot into the back of the net.

And in injury-time, the hosts went on to wrap up the three points after Sithu Aung broke free inside the area and squared the ball for Win Htay Kyaw, who was left with the simple task of prodding the ball over the line with his knee.

Yadanarbon’s fellow Myanmar National League outfit – Ayeyawady United – also produced an impressive display on Wednesday to beat New Radiant 3-0 at the National Football Stadium and move second in Group H.

Edison Fonseca scored with a close-range header to put the visitors ahead in the 34th minute, before Riste Naumov netted twice in the final five minutes to make sure of the win for Ayeyawady.

The other match in the group saw Indonesia Super League giants Persib Bandung move two points clear at the top after claiming a hard-fought 1-0 win over Laotian side Lao Toyota.

The winner arrived in the 20th minute after terrific play from Supardi Nasir saw him skip past two men before playing a lovely through-pass into the path of Tantan, who drew out the onrushing Chanthakard Syenpongsai before squaring the ball to leave Atep with an easy tap-in at the far post.

Wednesday’s AFC Cup Results

Group G

Yadanarbon 2-0 Global

Pahang 0-1 South China

Group H

Persib Bandung 1-0 Lao Toyota

New Radiant 0-3 Ayeyawady United

Gutsy Global deny Pahang; Persib held by Ayeyawady

Philippine outfit Global produced a spirited display on Wednesday to hold Malaysia Super League giants Pahang to a 0-0 draw in AFC Cup Group G.

Global, who were hammered 6-1 by South China in their competition debut two weeks ago, were expected by many to be overrun by Tok Gajah at the Darulmakmur Stadium.

But in what turned out to be an indomitable performance from Leigh Manson’s charges, they were able to keep the hosts at bay for throughout the 90 minutes, with goalkeeper Jun Badelic and defenders Amani Aguinaldo and Daisuke Sato all proving to be unbeatable at the back.

The visitors did have their chances as well as Mark Hartmann and Richard Talaroc both gave Pahang a real scare, although the Malaysian side only had themselves to blame as they missed a host of gilt-edged opportunites – R. Gopinathan the biggest culprit on the night.

Nonetheless, Global’s evening was slightly tarnished in injury-time when Aguinaldo was sent off for a second bookable offence, although it was rather harsh given he appeared to not have heard the whistle when he booted the ball away after a freekick had been awarded.

Elsewhere in Group G, Myanmar’s Yadanarbon are still looking for their first points of the campaign after being beaten 3-1 by Hong Kong side South China, who stayed top of the table with a maximum six points from two matches.

South China took the lead at the Mong Kok Stadium after 13 minutes when a deft flick from Daniel McBreen released Lo Kong Wai, who raced through down the left before clinically placing his shot in off the post.

Six minutes later, it was 2-0 after Yadanarbon keeper Thiha Sithu – under no pressure – punched the ball straight out to Bojan Malisic, whose first-time volley back into the box was met by Mahama Awal with a neat finish from five yards out.

The contest was then effectively over eight minutes before the break after McBreen had been left completely unmarked inside the box, and was able to meet Chan Siu Ki’s corner with an easy close-range header into the back of the net.

To their credit, the visitors refused to give in without a fight and did grab a consolation in the 89th minute; Zaw Lin Tun reacting quickest to Yan Paing’s flick-on header and nodding the ball past Cristian Mora.

Over in Group H, Indonesia Super League giants Persib Bandung were unable to make it two wins in a row after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Ayeyawady United of Myanmar at the Thuwunna Stadium.

Persib were initially on track for victory after edging ahead on the stroke of halftime when Tantan latched onto Muhammad Ridwan’s cut-back and held off a challenge before laying it off to Atep Rizal, who stayed cool to steady himself before smashing a half-volley into the roof of the net.

However, the visitors went on to force the draw in the 58th minute when Edison Fonseca pounced on a poor pass by Hariono inside his own half and headed straight for goal, before unleashing a 30-yard piledriver that nicked off Vladimir Vujovic’s back and made its way into the far corner.

The other Group H match saw Laotian club Lao Toyota relinquish a lead to be defeated 2-1 by New Radiant of Maldives at the National Football Stadium.

Although the visitors had went in front through Maitee’s 37th-minute opener, New Radiant equalised eight minutes after the hour mark through a strike from Nigerian midfielder Patrick Okoro.

And with two minutes remaining, the hosts were handed the perfect opportunity to claim maximum points after being awarded a penalty – paving the way for Ashad Ali to slot home the winner.

Wednesday’s AFC Cup Results

Group G

South China 3-1 Yadanarbon

Pahang 0-0 Global

Group H

Ayeyawady United 1-1 Persib Bandung

New Radiant 2-1 Lao Toyota

Persib off to a bang in AFC Cup; Pahang leave it late

Indonesia Super League champions Persib Bandung opened their 2015 AFC Cup Group H campaign in style after cruising to a 4-1 win over Maldives’ New Radiant on Wednesday evening.

Centre-back Achmad Jufriyanto popped up at the other end to score and hand Persib a 15th-minute lead at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, before Malian attacker Makan Konate doubled their advantage three minutes before the break.

Right on the stroke of halftime, the contest was effectively over when Atep Rizal added a third for the hosts, although New Radiant pulled one back on the hour mark through a strike from captain Ashad Ali.

Nonetheless, Persib always remained in control of proceedings and wrapped things up in the second minute of injury-time when substitute Yandi Munawar found the back of the net to complete the rout.

The other Group H game saw debutants Lao Toyota come from two goals down to hold Myanmar National League outfit Ayeyawady United to a 2-2 draw at the New Laos National Stadium.

Macedonian striker Riste Naumov had fired the visitors ahead after 21 minutes, and it looked like they were cruising to victory when he doubled his tally in the 57th minute.

But in the 63rd minute, Sitthideth Khantavong reduced the deficit before Phattana Syvilay equalised just two minutes later, which ultimately proved enough to hand Lao Toyota a share of the spoils.

Over in Group G, Pahang of Malaysia left it late to see off Myanmar’s Yadanarbon 3-2 at the Mandalarthiri Stadium.

Tok Gajah were initially in a comfortable position when Dickson Nwakaeme broke the deadlock after six minutes, before finding the back of the net once more in the 12th minute.

However, a Damion Stewart own-goal got Yadanarbon back in the game, and they pulled level ten minutes into the second half when Djedje Maximin successfully converted from the penalty spot.

Just when it looked like a draw was on the cards, Malaysia international R. Gopinathan netted a minute from time to win it for the visitors.

Finally, the other game in Group G saw Philippine debutants Global handed a heavy 6-1 thrashing by Hong Kong’s South China at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Daniel McBreen and Mahama Awal both netted braces and Lo Kong Wai and Chan Wai Ho were also on target for the visitors, while Global’s consolation arrived three minutes before fulltime through a Michael Jonsson strike.

2014 AFF Suzuki Cup Team of the Tournament

The final ball has been kicked and it is Thailand who have emerged triumphant after being crowned champions of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.

Given they were widely regarded as favourites before the tournament began, it should come as no surprise that they have reclaimed their status as the number one side in Southeast Asia for the first time since 2002.

Over the past month, several members of the War Elephants established themselves as national heroes following their pivotal roles in bringing a fourth regional crown back to Thailand, including the likes of Kawin Thamsatchanan, Chanathip Songkrasin and Charyl Chappuis.

However, a number of players from Malaysia can also hold their heads high after leading their side to an impressive – and what many assumed was impossible – run to the final, while Philippines and Vietnam also gave a good account of themselves before ultimately falling at the semi-final stage.

Here, Football SEA picks our best players from the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup in a 4-2-3-1 formation, including seven substitutes, as well as our top coach from the tournament.

GK: Kawin Thamsatchanan (Thailand)

He may not have been the busiest of goalkeepers given the Thais dominated almost all their matches, but – whenever he was called upon – Kawin proved to be equal to the task.

The Muangthong United man’s finest game was arguably the 0-0 draw against Philippines in the first leg of the semi-finals, when he refused to be beaten even after his side were reduced to ten men following Adisak Kraisorn’s dismissal.

Kawin got better as the tournament wore on and kept a vital clean sheet in the first leg of the final after producing fine stops to deny Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Indra Putra Mahayuddin, which went a long way in helping the Thais claim the title.

RB: Simone Rota (Philippines)

If there were doubts over who Philippines’ first-choice right-back was ahead of the tournaments, there should no longer be any after Rota’s determined displays throughout the tournament.

The 30-year-old’s campaign got off to a fine start when he opened the Azkals’ account with a well-taken equaliser in the 4-1 Group A win over Laos, which helped settle their nerves after Khampheng Sayavutthi had fired their opponents in front.

Rota came face to face with some of the region’s most-dangerous wingers, including Zulham Zamrun and Kroekrit Thaweekarn, but never lowered his colours apart from one testing encounter against Vietnam’s Pham Thanh Luong during the group stage.

CB: Shukor Adan (Malaysia)

Alas, it was not to be for the 35-year-old as he failed to finish off his international career with a Suzuki Cup winner’s medal.

But Shukor will have no shame in the manner in which he signed off on his 14 years with Malaysia, especially given how many questioned his selection in the squad before the start of the tournament.

Handed the captain’s armband by Harimau Malaya coach Dollah Salleh, Shukor relished the challenge of leading his troops and at times looked to be the only one holding the shaky backline together, and was arguably his side’s best player throughout.

CB: Tanaboon Kesarat (Thailand)

With Thailand boss Kiatisuk Senamuang opting to leave out experienced defenders like Panupong Wongsa, Chonlatit Jantakam and Nataporn Phanrit, many wondered how the backline would hold up against the region’s deadliest strikers.

To be fair, it was in defence where the War Elephants looked the most vulnerable at times but they ultimately got the job done, and Tanaboon deserves plenty of credit for the way he stepped up despite his tender years.

Blessed with an ability to read the play, strong physical attributes as well as good technique, the future looks extremely bright for the 21-year-old, who also showed in the 2-0 Group B victory over Myanmar that he’s more than capable of being deployed in midfield.

LB: Peerapat Notechaiya (Thailand)

Peerapat started the tournament as Kiatisuk’s first-choice left-back in the 2-1 win over Singapore, although a niggling injury then saw him replaced by veteran Chayapat Kitpongsritada in the next two games.

But once he regained full fitness, the BEC Tero Sasana starlet was straight back into the team and displayed remarkable maturity for a 21-year-old, as well as impressing with his tireless running down the flank.

Thailand may currently be blessed with a host of talented left-backs, including 2013 Thai Premier League Player of the Year Theerathon Bunmathan, but Peerapat could just make the position his own if he continues to develop and realise his full potential.

CM: Sarach Yooyen (Thailand)

Given the number of famous names in the Thailand side, it was perhaps easy to overlook a pint-sized defensive midfielder by the name of Sarach Yooyen, although those who did notice him would be aware of just how important he was to the team.

Despite his slight frame, the Muangthong youngster had plenty of bite in his challenges as he looked to shield his defenders, but it was the way he broke up opposition attacks with his understanding of the game that made him stand out as an anchorman.

Once he had won possession, he was always looking to get his team on the front foot with his precise distribution, and he was also never afraid to have a go himself; his blistering freekick in the second leg of the final that forced Farizal Marlias into a flying save eventually led to Chappuis’ pivotal strike.

CM: Safiq Rahim (Malaysia)

It can be argued that Safiq still did not display his true ability despite finishing the tournament as the top scorer with six goals, and playing as a traditional central midfielder no less.

Given his obvious talent, the Johor Darul Ta’zim playmaker did not always get into the game and lacked the urgency in several key moments when his side needed it badly.

But for sheer impact and ability to keep his nerve in the biggest moments, Safiq gets the nod after his four clinically-taken penalties, along with a fine individual effort and a sublime freekick, helped Harimau Malaya get as close to winning the title as they did.

RW: Amri Yahyah (Malaysia)

Along with Shukor, Amri was perhaps the one Malaysian player that emerged from the tournament with plenty of credit to his name.

His selflessness and versatility have always been known to fans given how he’s often been deployed as a winger rather than his favoured position as a striker, but the way he – at times – looked to singlehandedly drag his side over the line was nothing short of inspirational.

Amri may have finished the tournament with only one goal to his name but much of the good work he produced was done in the build-up, and he did almost provide the goal of the tournament in the 3-2 Group B loss to Thailand after his stunning 60-yard lob over Kawin came crashing back off the bar.

AM: Phil Younghusband (Philippines)

For the third tournament in a row, the Azkals progressed to the last four to reaffirm their status as one of Southeast Asia’s major forces.

Despite having got among the goals in 2010 and 2012, Younghusband unfairly entered the tournament with queries from some quarters over his big-game mentality, despite being Philippines’ all-time top scorer at the age of 27.

By the time his side had played their opening two matches, those doubts had been emphatically dispelled with two goals and three assists to his name and although he failed to add to that tally thereafter, he often loomed as his side’s likeliest source of something special and seemed to excel playing as a second striker.

LW: Chanathip Songkrasin (Thailand)

Granted, it was Kroekrit Thaweekarn, and not Chanathip, that was Thailand’s first-choice left winger throughout the tournament but given the way the latter freely roamed the pitch, is it really possible to pinpoint a fixed position where he was deployed in?

One thing is for certain – whenever he received the ball in the attacking third, he was almost always unstoppable with his phenomenal control, sublime dribbling and blistering pace.

Nonetheless, he also bucked the trend of most silky attackers by regularly looking for his team-mates rather than go it on his own, and was deservedly named the Most Valuable Player of the competition.

ST: Le Cong Vinh (Vietnam)

Before the start of the tournament, there were rumours that coach Toshiya Miura was considering leaving Cong Vinh out of his final 22 and, following a couple of quiet years at club level, it was certainly fair to ponder if we had seen the best of the one-time golden boy of Vietnam.

While his campaign may have begun on the bench, it took him just 13 minutes to make an impact after coming on as a second-half substitute in the 2-2 draw against Indonesia; latching onto a weak clearance header and sending a spectacular first-time volley into the top corner.

Cong Vinh went on to finish the campaign with four goals to his name, including a well-taken brace in the 4-2 loss to Malaysia in the second leg of the semi-finals, and was the most-impressive spearhead in a tournament that really lacked genuine quality from the out-and-out strikers.

Coach: Kiatisuk Senamuang (Thailand)

A gold medal at last year’s Southeast Asian Games and a remarkable fourth-place finish at this year’s Asian Games – was there anything left for Kiatisuk to achieve?

The answer was a resounding yes as the legendary former Thailand striker became the first person to win the Suzuki Cup both as a player and coach, gaining a new legion of fans across the region in the process for his cool demeanour on the touchline, as well as the way he always conducted himself with immense class.

Kiatisuk’s reputation has now been further enhanced by the fact that he is the man that ended the War Elephants’ 12-year wait to reclaim the AFF crown, which was made even more impressive by the fact that the average age of his squad was just 24.

The future is bright for Thailand, and the future is certainly bright for Kiatisuk.

Substitutes

GK: Hassan Sunny (Singapore)

Hassan ultimately did not get much of a chance to prove his worth given Singapore’s disappointing group-stage exit, although he was one of the Lions’ best performers and continues to rival Kawin as the region’s number one goalkeeper.

FB: Zulkifli Syukur (Indonesia)

One of just two Indonesia players to start all three Group A games, Zulkifli – at times – looked like the only player in the side with a remote idea of how to defend, and deserves credit for the way he regularly covered Achmad Jufriyanto and Muhammad Roby.

CB: Le Phuoc Tu (Vietnam)

At 30, Phuoc Tu was the oldest player in the Vietnam side along with Le Tan Tai but more than held his own against younger, faster and fitter opponents, only to be ultimately let down by some shambolic defending from Dinh Tien Thanh, Nguyen Van Bien and goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh in the 4-2 semi-final second-leg loss to the Malaysians.

CM: Charyl Chappuis (Thailand)

The new poster boy of Thai football – Chappuis certainly proved he is capable of delivering the goods after grabbing four goals, although he still has room for improvement given the way he went quiet for significant periods in a couple of matches, as well as his tendency to go for the killer pass too often.

WG: Vu Minh Tuan (Vietnam)

While many expected Nguyen Van Quyet to be Vietnam’s brightest spark before the tournament began, he failed to really fire and instead it was Minh Tuan who proved to be a real threat down the right with his enterprising runs and direct style of play that really caused problems for his opponents, especially against Laos and Philippines.

FW: Indra Putra Mahayuddin (Malaysia)

Although the veteran did not start any of Malaysia’s first four matches, he had such an impact coming off the bench that it was impossible for Dollah to leave him out thereafter, and he went on to become Harimau Malaya’s most-creative outlet in the attacking third in their charge to a runners-up finish.

ST: Khairul Amri (Singapore)

Like Cong Vinh, Amri was one of the few out-and-out strikers that managed to put in a series of consistent displays, even though he only had three games to showcase his abilities. His dominant display as a target-man in Singapore’s 2-1 opening day defeat to Thailand set the standard, and he always gave opposition defenders something to think about.