South East Asia’s most prestigious tournamentl; the Suzuki Cup kicked off yesterday and its indeed promising to be the most enthralling edition since the introduction of this tournament in 1996, when it was called the Tiger Cup. Based on the opening two matches yesterday, one thing is definite; the quality in this tournament has increased dramatically since last year. Looking at this 2014 Suzuki Cup edition here are my pick for the top 5 players to look out for.
1) Chanatip Songkrasin (Thailand)
Standing 5 ft 2in and only 21, Chanatip has already picked up Gold Medal at the 2013 Sea Games as well as picking up the runners up medal during the last edition of the Suzuki Cup. The BEC Tero Sasana player, who is dubbed the Messi Jay of Thailand football, certainly did live up to the hype surrounding him during the recently concluded Asian Game,s where he guided the team to a 4th place finish and played a sterling role in that ‘No. 10’ position, contributing 3 goals in the process. Thailand are walking into this edition as one of the favourites despite Teerasil Dangda’s absence and Chanatip will be the key.
2) Boaz Salossa (Indonesia)
The one club man of Persipura Jayapura, who has won every accolade club football in Indonesia, is a huge boost to Indonesia’s hopes of competing for the Suzuki Cup title this time around. Boaz, at mere age of 18, did play in the 2004 edition, then called the Tiger Cup, and he played an instrumental role in helping the team achieve runners up position. This will only be his second tournament since then and Boaz Salossa is one man that can make the difference for Indonesia with his skill, pace and power.
3) Khairul Amri (Singapore)
The defending champions are walking into this tournament with a new man in charge and he will be putting his trust in Khairul Amri as the go-to-man and rightly so. Having won the title 3 times in 2004, 2007 and 2012, Khairul Amri possesses the experience and the tenacity to lead the line for the Lions. Strength, power, aerial ability and confident finishing in front of goal is what you can expect from this man.
4) Adisak Kraisorn (Thailand)
Teerasil Dangda’s absence is a massive blow to the Thais, as he is tied with duties for Almeria in the La Liga but if there’s a man who can fill in that huge boots, it would have to be Adisak Kraisom, who guided the team to the semi finals of the recently concluded Asian Games, scoring five goals in the process. Adisak was the top scorer for the Thais in the Asian Games due to his hunger for the game and sheer desire to get into great positions to make sure he gets onto the end of things. He will be crucial to Kiatisuk Senamuang’s game plan.
5) Phil Younghusband (Philippines)
From whipping boys to serious contenders, Philippines will looking to go all the way this time around after losing out in the semis in the last 2 editions and Phil Younghusband has been crucial to that success with a solid goalscoring record of 40 goals in only 66 matches. It will be his 4th tourney and at the peaking age of 27 it will be no better time for him to nail this edition of the Suzuki Cup. And considering that he has already opened his Suzuki Cup account with a goal against Laos yesterday, expect him to continue shining.