Rivalries resume in battle for Southeast Asian title
Chonburi: The annual battle for regional bragging rights is set to resume, as Thailand plays host to the AFF Women’s Championship, starting on Thursday.
Despite their proud record of four previous titles, Thailand will play host for the first time in the tournament, which this year features nine women’s national teams competing for the title of Southeast Asian champions, with the final to be held on August 27.
With 20 matches ahead in two weeks of football, the-AFC.com previews the contenders and challengers in Chonburi.
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Group A: Thailand
With the past three titles under their belt, and as the only team in the competition to have appeared in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, their pedigree is unsurpassed in the region, but this is the dawn of a new era for the Chaba Kaew.
Chonburi will play host to Thailand’s first matches since the departure of head coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian and long-time team manager Nualphan Lamsam, with Naruephon Kaenson taking charge of the side and hoping to hit the ground running by challenging for the title.
World Cup goal scorer Kanjana Sung-Ngoen will lead the charge after six goals in the 2018 edition, while Miranda Nild has been named after appearing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Qualifiers for Lithuanian champions Gintra Universitetas.
Stay Tuned!! We are Coming back— Changsuek (@Changsuek_TH) August 2, 2019
ร่วมส่งเสียงเชียร์เเละให้กำลังใจกับการเดินทางครั้งใหม่ อีกครั้ง ในฟุตบอลหญิงชิงเเชมป์อาเซียน 2019
ณ สนามฟุตบอลสถาบันการพลศึกษา วิทยาเขตชลบุรี 15-27 สิงหาคม 62 #ช้างศึก #TogetherAsOne #เชียร์ไทยใจเดียวกัน pic.twitter.com/qxw3sgvyLS
Many of the key players from the squad which got to within 90 minutes of qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup have departed, but the Philippines’ determination to compete with the region’s powerhouses remains.
Having reached an all-time high ranking of 67 in July, and fresh from a 11-0 friendly win over Macau, Let Dimzon’s side are targeting a top three finish as they build towards a SEA Games tournament they will host in December.
Group B: Vietnam
If Thailand have established themselves as the region’s top side, Vietnam have pushed them all the way, winning SEA Games gold in 2017 and even overtaking their neighbours in the most recent FIFA rankings update.
With ultra-experienced head coach Mai Duc Chung at the helm, and familiar faces such as Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung and Hunyh Nhu expected to lead the charge on the pitch, Vietnam will be looking to prove the rankings right by taking the title for the first time since 2012.
AFF Women's Championship 2019 - Two Days to Kick Off pic.twitter.com/OnseyN6i9L— ASEAN Football (@AFFPresse) August 13, 2019
Myanmar have barely put a foot wrong in 2019. Winning the Women’s Gold Cup in India and giving themselves a shot at what would be history-making place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with an unbeaten and goal-laden passage through the qualifiers thus far.
Myanmar will undoubtedly look to Win Theingi Tun, the prolific 24-year-old who scored seven times in last year’s tournament and has racked up a stunning 17 goals in her last 10 outings in AFC competitions.
Group A: Malaysia, Singapore, Timor-Leste
Having won two group stage matches out of four in 2018, Malaysia return under head coach Jacob Joseph, and will fancy their chances against Singapore and Timor-Leste, both of whom went goalless in last year’s edition.
Singapore have prepared well with an extensive schedule of matches in 2019 and will be hoping to register the senior international win which has eluded them since they beat Maldives last November.
🇸🇬 Our Lionesses squad for the AFF Women's Championship 2019! We play Timor-Leste🇹🇱 in our Group A opener on 15 August. All the best, ladies! 💪 More ➡️ https://t.co/YHHUl4Kea4 pic.twitter.com/mkgtYZqlhc— FAS (@FASingapore) August 13, 2019
Group B: Indonesia, Cambodia
Indonesia arrive at the competition with the confidence of having advanced from the first round of Tokyo 2020 Qualifiers, although they were brought back down to earth somewhat by the three straight defeats, including a 6-0 loss to Group B rivals Myanmar, which saw them eliminated in the second stage.
With an intense two-week training camp in Phnom Penh under their belt, Cambodia return to the tournament following last year’s debut, where they defeated Timor-Leste 12-0 in their opening match before suffering similarly heavy defeats in their remaining fixtures to bow out in the group stage.
Fixtures - Thursday (all times local): Philippines v Malaysia (15:00), Timor-Leste v Singapore (18:00).
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