Suzuki Cup Auditions: Which young stars can earn a big move?
After dazzling at both club and national level for several years, Thailand's Chanathip Songkrasin has caught the eye of a host of clubs outside his homeland and FourFourTwo understands a loan move to Japanese club Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo is now close to being realised for next season.
While Muangthong would understandably be loath to lose the jewel in their crown, for the good of football across Asia it’s a move that can bring benefits right across the region.
The original purpose of the ‘AFC +1’ spot and now the ‘ASEAN +1’ that is being adopted in a host of leagues across the continent is to support the idea that the best players from one nation should keep stepping up the ladder to the next level and that in turn helps raise the standard right across Southeast Asia and beyond.
With that in mind, FourFourTwo takes a look at some young Suzuki Cup players who could be ready to leave their home confines and take the step to a bigger league abroad.
VU VANH THANH (Vietnam to Korea)
Another graduate from the prolific production line of the HAGL academy, the 20-year-old has simply dazzled since making his national debut earlier this year. A dynamic, attack-minded left fullback or winger, Thanh could be one of the breakout players of the tournament. With three fellow HAGL products currently playing in both Japan and South Korea, he easily has the technical quality to follow them to one of the region’s biggest leagues.
EVAN DIMAS (Indonesia to Malaysia)
Long touted as one of the most promising youngsters in the region, the 21-year-old has been linked with a move to both Europe and Japan in the past but a year or two at one of the biggest clubs in the Malaysia Super League could be just the ‘seasoning’ the exceptionally gifted midfielder needs before taking the next step.
HADIN AZMAN (Malaysia to Thailand)
Another who was reportedly on the radar of European clubs from an early age, the 22-year-old is the second youngest player in a vastly experienced Malaysian side. In a team not stacked with dazzling attacking talents the left winger, who can also operate centrally, is one such player and a good tournament here should have him attracting interest from some of the leading Thai clubs looking for a dynamic attacking option.
TRISTAN DO (Thailand to Japan)
Whilst the likes of Chanathip, Teerasil Dangda and another newish arrival in Charyl Chappuis have either moved or been heavily linked with a shift abroad, one player who has slid under the radar despite impressing is the fullback Tristan Do. Now established on the right side of Thailand’s back four, the French-born 23-year-old impressed again in the FIFA World Cup qualification draw with Australia this week and could surely handle the step up in class required to cut it in Japan, even if it’s in J2 to begin with.
CHAN VATHANAKA/NUB TOLA (Cambodia to Singapore)
With the S.League struggling to attract quality imports and reduced to ‘headline’ grabbing acts of bringing in former stars past their prime, perhaps the time is right to readjust and look at some of the region’s best young stars as a way to revive their flagging league.
This pair of Cambodian talents at different ends of the pitch would immediately enhance the prospects of any S.League club that took the plunge, with Tola offering a steadying presence with great distribution at the back and Vathanaka a sure source of goals.
WIN NAING SOE (Myanmar to Singapore)
While the most likely player to be on the radar for Southeast Asian clubs, striker Kyaw Ko Ko, was dramatically axed from the Myanmar squad, that means a chance for others to step up. This Yadanarbon frontman, who has had a wonderful domestic season, could be just the player. If he performs well for the Group B hosts there should be no shortage of suitors from abroad for the 23-year-old.
IZWAN MAHBUD (Singapore to Thailand)
In a Singapore team where 26-year-old keeper Izwan is one of the youngest members of the squad it’s not easy to find a player on the rise, but even as a back-up here he should still harbour ambitions to move abroad. A much-hyped trial in Japan earlier this failed to realise a contract but with the man who supplanted him as the Lions’ No.1, Hassan Sunny, impressing since moving to Thailand there’s no reason why the Tampines player couldn’t as well – and with many nations preventing foreign keepers from signing, Thailand may well be his best chance at a move abroad.
MIKE OTT (Philippines to Thailand)
One of the standouts of the recent crop of ‘Fil-Foreigners’ to have joined the Azkals, German born and raised Ott has impressed in his handful of outings for the national team thus far, scoring the team’s only goal as the Philippines lost 3-1 to Bahrain last month. With the withdrawal of star forward Javier Patino, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder will likely be leaned on heavily here and after being stuck in Nurnberg’s reserve team, he could be heavily tracked by a host of top regional clubs with a move to a major Thai outfit making sense under the ‘ASEAN +1’ regulations.