In every squad, there are certain players that serve as crucial cogs and determining factors for an effective campaign. Here are five such players that their respective teams can’t operate to the fullest without them this coming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.
IKHSAN FANDI (Singapore, Attacking midfielder/Striker, Young Lions)
Only 19 years of age, the Young Lion’s main strength is his consistency in finding the back of the net whether it is for club or country.
His combination of power and size are his edge physically as an operator at the front line. But his positional awareness and composure are the intangibles that further strengthens his effectiveness for his squad.
With his recent contributions for his team, most particularly for the Singapore Lions, Ikhsan Fandi has definitely already made a mark in football regionally that other countries have already taken note
Come this Suzuki Cup, Ikhsan Fandi will surely be one of the players to watch out for. Singapore will expect, while other nations will be wary of him.
AUNG THU (Myanmar, Forward/Striker, Club: Police Tero [loan from Yadanarbon])
24 goals in 58 appearances for Burmese club, Yadanarbon, triggered a loan to highly reputable Thai League 1 club Police Tero.
Once setting foot in Thailand, he didn’t disappoint as he was able to finish the 2018 season with a very much respectable 11 goals – the most for an ASEAN player in the Thai League. Add to that his eight assists, it shows that Aung Thu is primed to be in the big leagues.
At this point, his stock definitely has risen even more and is now a sure lock for Myanmar in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup edition.
Expectations will be high though out of him by Myanmar national football team’s faithfuls as eyes will be on him if he can improve his current tally of eight goals for his country.
MANNY OTT (Philippines, Midfielder, Club: Ceres-Negros)
The diminutive midfielder creator for Philippines’ League champions Ceres, Manny Ott, is a creative force. HIs approach is subtle yet effective, unlocking the oppositions’ defence with his killer passes for his forwards in the most surprising way.
His passing, vision and keeping the ball in midfield are his highest strengths. He also is a reliable set-piece taker, whether direct or indirect. But his most underrated threat is his occasional ability to score out of nowhere, when his team’s frontline is having a lean spell, via a shot from range that catches the opposition off-guard for a spectacular goal.
Manny Ott’s goals indeed could be something special, but his high-level of consistency in operating from the middle of the park is the most important essential that the Philippines’ will lean on to come the AFF Suzuki Cup.
NGUYEN VAN QUYET (Vietnam, Winger/Midfielder, Club: Ha Noi FC)
Vietnam’s current ‘Number 10’ holds true to his role.
A feared marauder for his club Ha Noi FC, his ability to break down defences from the wing and finish or lay off the killer pass for the strikers is where his threat lies. With a scoring rate of 0.40 goals per game, his reliability in firing his club to glory truly cannot be denied.
Such was the rate of his consistency for club football that he is part of the Golden Dragons’ main attacking force. And being assigned a jersey number that is of high esteem and importance speaks volumes of the faith his country has given him.
With Vietnam, currently experiencing a drought since their 2008 AFF Championship triumph, the nation will be looking up to Nguyen Van Quyet to be one of the main factors who could lead the squad back to glorious heights.
Other teams will be well aware of him as well.
EVAN DIMAS (Indonesia, Midfielder, Club: Selangor)
Liga Super Malaysia club Selangor’s star midfielder from Indonesia, Evan Dimas, was acquired from Bhayangkara.
A technically gifted player with vision and playmaking ability that is sure to break down the opposition, Evan Dimas could definitely play a key role for the Garudas’ 2018 Suzuki Cup campaign.
More of a facilitator than a goalscorer, his services from the middle of the park will be indispensable for his squad.
His ability with the ball at his feet will come in handy in breaking down the opposition’s defence in tough spells, and his dangerous through balls and short passes will be something that his forwards will be looking forward to.