AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 Match Day 2: The Top 5

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan picks his five most impressive performers from Match Day 2 of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.

So, after two rounds of matches, it is Malaysia who find themselves top of Group A as they maintained their perfect start with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Laos, while Myanmar got up and running by beating Cambodia 4-1.

Over in Group B, Philippines kicked off their campaign by claiming a 1-0 home win over Singapore, and Indonesia had to survive a real scare before downing Timor-Leste 3-1.

Here, FOX Sports Asia looks back at “The Top 5” from Match Day 2 of the tournament.

Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Malaysia)

Despite being 32, Norshahrul had already shown he still has what it takes at this level with his goal in Malaysia’s opening 1-0 win over Cambodia – which marked the fourth Suzuki Cup in which he has scored in.

And, against a stubborn Laos side on Monday, Harimau Malaya again had to call on his guile and experience as his two late goals won them the tie.

The first was a predatory strike with just three minutes remaining as he pounced on a loose ball inside the six-yard box, while the second came in injury-time after he broke free with a perfectly-timed run to meet Akhyar Rashid’s clever pass and head past Outthilath Nammakhoth.

Hlaing Bo Bo (Myanmar)

Having had to watch on as spectators on Match Day 1, it initially looked as though the delayed start would affect Myanmar as they fell behind to Cambodia on Monday.

But it did not take long them to find their groove and a key factor behind their second-half revival – under than the introduction of star striker Aung Thu – was a tireless display from Hlaing Bo Bo.

The box-to-box midfielder showed a real penchant for making late runs into the dangerous positions, which was rewarded on two occasions as he scored two similar goals after arriving into the box unannounced.

Stephan Schrock (Philippines)

It was Patrick Reichelt who got the all-important goal that saw Philippines win their first game of the tournament, wriggling free in the 78th minute to slot past Hassan Sunny.

However, in what proved to be a battle of attrition at the Panaad Stadium that was genuinely bereft of much attacking quality, Schrock was a constant shining light.

Schrock helping out with the defensive duties too.

The Ceres-Negros dynamo was always looking to give the Azkals a spark by casually spraying passes with the outside of his right foot, but also helped out defensively and was not afraid to get confrontational with an equally-feisty Singapore side.

Rufino Gama (Timor-Leste)

It was a strike that will go down as one of the goals of the tournament and, for awhile, it looked as though Rufino’s stunning half-volley from the edge of the box – which left opposition goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa grasping at thin air – would also lead to one of the biggest upsets in Suzuki Cup history.

It was not to be for the Timorese in the end but they certainly showed – offensively, at least – they not only have the desire but the quality to give their opponents a problem or two.

While Henrique Cruz, Timor-Leste’s two-goal hero in the qualifiers, has yet to find his feet, it has been Rufino who has looked their likeliest source of a goal so far in the two games.

Andik Vermansyah (Indonesia)

Having initially been left out of coach Bima Sakti’s 23-man squad and then left on the bench in last week’s 1-0 loss to Singapore, Andik Vermansyah was a man with plenty to prove for Indonesia.

With his side trailing, Andik produced a neat pass to set up Alfath Fathier for the equailser and then his trademark speed saw him brought down inside the area by Gumario, paving the way for Stefano Lilipaly to net the go-ahead goal from the spot.

A new wave of talent may have emerged for Garuda but Andik has the experience and still has not lost any of his attacking panache, which could make him an important asset as his team aim for a maiden Suzuki Cup crown.

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