The AFF Suzuki Cup 2016 resumes this weekend, with the four survivors of last month’s group stage set to face each other in the semifinals.
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VIETNAM (Group B winners) vs. INDONESIA (Group A runners-up)
Upstarts Indonesia will have to overcome a strong Vietnam side when they welcome the Group B winners to Pakansari Stadium on Saturday night.
Garuda have not lost to the visitors in AFF play since 1999, a good omen against what should be a challenging series. Alfred Riedel will be without two of his top defenders in the first leg as centre-back duo Fachruddin Aryanto and Rudolof Yanto Basna serve out their suspensions.
The shakiness on the back line, which conceded a tournament-worst seven goals in three matches, will put more pressure on ace striker Boaz Solossa to score goals.
Meanwhile, the likes of Le Cong Vinh and Luong Xuan Truong will lead the Golden Stars after their mostly-flawless group stage, with surprise package Nguyen Truong Hoang comfortable as either a starter or a super sub for later in the match.
The 2008 champions beat Indonesia in a pre-tournament friendly but will head into the first match expecting a cagey encounter and knowing that the outcome of the series will likely be decided in Hanoi next Wednesday.
EXPECTED LINEUPS FOR FIRST LEG
Meiga; Abduh, Manahati, Gunawan, Beny; Rizky Pora, Evan, Bayu, Andik; Lilipaly; Boaz
Tran Nguyen Manh; Tran Dinh Dong, Que Ngoc Hai, Bui Tien Dung, Vu Van Thanh; Ngo Hoang Thinh; Nguyen Van Toan, Luong Xuan Truong, Nguyen Ttrong Hoang, Dinh Thanh Trung; Le Cong Vinh
THAILAND (Group A winners) vs. MYANMAR (Group B runners-up)
On Sunday, the White Angels of Myanmar will look to continue their miracle run in their first semifinal appearance since 2004. They’ll take on defending champions Thailand, against whom they are winless in their last five encounters, conceding nine goals and scoring just two.
Gerd Zeise’s men started the round with a narrow loss to Vietnam, but went on to down Cambodia in the second match before David Htun’s late miracle gave the co-hosts a dramatic 1-0 win over Malaysia to see them through.
The German coach has proven himself especially adept at adjusting his tactics, and his team has without fail come out with a stronger attack in the second half than they showed in the first.
Thailand, despite a perfect three wins in Group A, enter the series looking less than invincible after requiring late goals in their last two matches following an opening 4-2 win over Indonesia. Chanathip Songkrasin will be the team’s conductor at midfield in their 3-4-1-2, while captain Teerasil Dangda will lead the attacking charge from the front.
Though many have clamoured for Sarawut Masuk, who scored game-winners against both Singapore and Philippines, to be added to the starting lineup, it’s more likely that Kiatisuk Senamuang will keep the 26-year-old as his “joker card” on the bench.
EXPECTED LINEUPS FOR FIRST LEG
Kyaw Zin Phyo; Kyaw Zin Lwin, Zaw Min Htun, Phyo Ko Ko Thein, Nanda Kyaw; Yan Aung Kyaw, David Htan, Myo Ko Tun, Mg Mg Lwin; Aung Thu, Kaung Sett Naing.
Kawin; Adisorn, Thanaboon, Prathum; Do, Pokklao, Sarach, Teerathon; Chanathip; Terrasil, Sirod