FourFourTwo's Southeast Asian 20 Under-20, Part I
* Words by John Duerden, Scott McIntyre, Tio Utomo, Kritikorn Thanamahamongkhol and Vijhay Vick
Supachok Sarachat – Thailand
A product of Buriram United’s academy, Supachok Sarachat was promoted to the first team in 2015 and became a regular the following year.
He also became the third youngest player to compete in the AFC Champions League when he featured against FC Seoul and Shandong Luneng in 2016.
The 18-year-old midfielder has agility, high technical ability and can operate well in tight spaces, so he can play any offensive position – attacking midfielder, left or right winger and even as the second striker.
In 2016 he played 20 matches for the ‘Thunder Castle’, almost three times more than in the previous season, and his goal against Army United was named Thai League goal of the week.
Although his form in the national youth team is not as impressive as for his club, very few high school students could handle playing for such a big club in such impressive fashion. – KT
Marco Casambre – Philippines
"Marco showed in training that he’s awake and he’s there,” said Philippines coach Thomas Dooley late last year, rather underwhelmingly.
Yet there is far more to the teenager's game than simply not being asleep, although he must have thought he was dreaming when he made his international debut against Thailand, the best team in the region, in a vital AFF Suzuki Cup clash last November.
He did pretty well too and there are predictions he can be a mainstay of the Azkal defence for the best part of two decades.
He uses the ball well, has the proverbial old-head-on-young-shoulders and, crucially, has enormous amounts of time to keep improving. – JD
Ha Duc Chinh – Vietnam
Previously known by the less than kind nickname ‘wooden leg’, Ha Duc Chinh has well and truly cast aside that moniker in the past 18 months.
In that time he’s emerged as the most important option in front of goal for a Vietnamese team that’s preparing to participate in this year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
A modern forward who is powerful and direct, he possesses good pace and a strong technique that makes him a threat both in the air and on the ground and he already looks like being the attacking centrepiece at his new V.League side Da Nang.
Comfortable either as a central striker or in the role he occupies for the national team, part of a two-man frontline, he’s fast earning a reputation for being not just a goalscorer, but also a scorer of important goals. – SM