Vientiane: The 2018 champions Vietnam kick off their AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 campaign as they visit Laos at the National Stadium KM16 in Vientiane on Wednesday.

Hosts Laos, under coach Michael Weiss, have an experienced leader at the helm and a man who has vast knowledge of Southeast Asian football from his time in charge of the Philippines between 2011 and 2014, so he'll be well aware of just how hard it is to break down a defensively solid Vietnamese side.

The German coach has also taken a hands-on role with the Laos youth sides and that’s seen him opt to bring through several of the younger talents into the full senior set-up with, unusually, only one player in the squad having more than 15 caps to their name.

That player is midfielder Soukaphone Vongchiengkham who, along with striker Billy Ketkeophomphone, midfielder Phithack Kongmathilath and veteran Mitsada Saitaifah, bring foreign experience to the Laos side and could be tasked with guiding the younger players around the pitch.

Whilst Laos are likely looking to the future, things are very different for a Vietnamese side that have their sights set on nothing less than winning a third regional title.

The Golden Star Warriors squad is packed with quality right across the pitch, including France-based star Nguyen Quang Hai, and will be motivated to win the title for departing head coach Park Hang-seo.

The Korean mentor has been at the helm since 2017 and, having already announced that he will be leaving his post after the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup, the players will be keen to send him out on a high.

Known for his disciplinarian ways, there likely won’t be any sentimentality from the veteran coach ahead of this opening clash where the target will be three points and nothing less.

In the 21 previous encounters between these two teams, 19 have ended in Vietnam wins whilst the other two were draws so there’s no understating just how big the task is for a Laos outfit that have only scored five goals, whilst conceding 80, across those prior meetings.

The one thing that is clearly in their favour here, though, is the return to the home-and-away format and coach Weiss will be hoping that his promising collection of youngsters, roared on by a vocal home crowd, might just be able to pull off one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition.