The third edition of the AFF Under-23 Championship will kick off tomorrow with the spanking new venue of the Morodok Techo National Stadium set to bear witness to the unearthing of future ASEAN superstars.
A great many players from the first edition in 2005 in Thailand have gone on to make a name for themselves in the region and it will be no different this time around.
Already a handful of the current set of players had already strutted their stuff at the senior level and this week, it will be the start of another journey.
For host Cambodia, the tournament will not only be a great opportunity to showcase their new 60,000 capacity venue but also give the lads the chance to show quality in front of their home fans as they open their campaign in Group A against Brunei DS.
“We will be looking for a good outcome in this tournament as this will be a good preparation for the SEA Games which Cambodia will be hosting in 2023,” said Cambodia head coach Hirose Ryu.
“The last two years have been difficult to get matches for young players, so this tournament is important.”
For Brunei head coach Aminuddin Jumat, playing against the hosts would be testing indeed after a long two-year hiatus from international competition.
“We have to thank the AFF and also the FFC for making this tournament possible. We have not been involved in any international tournament for the past two years,” said Aminuddin.
“We have a young squad and this will be good exposure for them. We hope that we can do something against Cambodia.”
TIMOR LESTE vs PHILIPPINES
“It has not been easy to travel in these testing times, so we have to appreciate the effort in making this tournament possible,” said Timor Leste Fabio Maciel.
“We are under no pressure as we are at the moment trying to raise a new generation of players. It is important that we play good football with a new mindset.”
“We have brought with us a developmental team which is a mixture of the locally-based players and some from abroad,” said Philippines head coach Stewart Hall.
“We had about three weeks with the players and for me, it is always good to start with a hard game (against Timor Leste).”
“It is too bad that Indonesia had to withdraw as we were looking forward to playing against them. This tournament will be a good chance for some of the other players to shine as we have brought in some new faces. We are certainly not the favourites as we are also developing this squad.” – Malaysian head coach Brad Maloney
“We could not bring our best possible squad due to several reasons. Some players rejected the chance to play for the national team. Some had family issues while some are injured. It is a difficult situation but we will be testing some players in this tournament which will be good for us in the long run.” – Myanmar head coach Velizar Popov
“We had quite a good preparation for this tournament where the LFF managed to arrange for some matches in Champasak. I believe that the players can perform at the level that we expect them to. The last few weeks have been spent in getting to know the players and their abilities.” – Laos head coach Michael Weiss
“We want to compete well in the group stage and of course make the final. We have brought a young squad with mostly players from the U19. We want the players to give a good performance. For now, our focus is on our first game against Singapore (on 16 February 2022). After that, will we look at Vietnam.” – Thailand head coach Salvador Garcia
“Like most teams here, we have had a good preparation over the last four weeks. Most of the players are from the U21 domestic competition. It is important that the players gain experience from this tournament and aim for the best outcome.” – Vietnam head coach Dinh The Nam
“We are looking forward to a good tournament. It is a tough group but we are here not to just take part. We will try to go as far as we can in this championship. We will of course miss the four players who were left behind but this will be a good opportunity for the others to shine.” – Singapore head coach Nazri Nasir
AFF U23 CHAMPIONSHIP 2022
14 February 2022
GROUP A – All matches at the Morodok Techo National Stadium
1600hrs: Timor Leste vs Philippines
1900hrs: Cambodia vs Brunei DS