Best Asian Football Team
Jason Dasey and Stanely Bernard discuss Thailand's future after winning their record fifth AFF Cup.
From the recently concluded AFF Suzuki Cup where Thailand once again reigned supreme as the region's top guns to Albirex Niigata (S) rewriting S.League history in Singapore with a first-ever quadruple, it has been another good year for Southeast Asian football.
With the Asian Cup qualifiers and Southeast Asian Games taking center stage in 2017, we take a walk down memory lane to see what kept football fans buzzing with excitement in the last 12 months.
Here are five of the best moments in Southeast Asian football this year:
1. War Elephants continue regional domination
Seven games later, on the back of a golden boot performance from Teerasil Dandga, Thailand emerged champions to seal a record fifth title. While Indonesia put up a strong fight over the two-legged final, the War Elephants were never going to let slip the coveted crown with 15 goals scored and three conceded.
Having already qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Thailand's immediate focus will switch to their remaining World Cup qualifiers where they will seek to continue improving their status as not just the region's top football side but to become one of Asia's finest.Kiatisuk Senamuang is the only man to have won the AFF Cup both as a player and coach.
2. Albirex takes slice of history in Singapore football
Ten months on, they have swept all four Singapore domestic football titles - Community Shield, League Cup, Singapore Cup and S.League - making them the first club to ever achieve the almost impossible feat.
Backed by the astute management of Daisuke Korenaga and Koh Mui Tee, Naruo balanced his team with the veteran leadership of goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa, Naofumi Tanaka and Atsushi Kawata.
Naruo decided to return to Japan and his replacement Kazuaki Yoshinaga will have the task of building a new team for the 2017 season without star man Kawata, who has returned to sign for the White Swans' parent club in the J-League.Albirex Niigata (S) swept all four domestic titles in Singapore football this year.
3. Minnows Cambodia no longer easy pickings
The Angkor Warriors had to take the long route of qualifying from the playoffs before joining Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia in Group B of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Korean tactician Lee Tae-Hoon's team blitzed past their playoff opponents and refused to back down to superior oppositions in Yangon, only to be let down by naïve defending to lose all three group matches.
Despite the results, Cambodia showed that they are no longer the regional whipping boys they once were, and almost pulled off a remarkable upset against Malaysia only to go down 3-2 at the end.