They are the tempo setters, the creative threats and the controlling forces in the middle of the pitch.

Through a thrilling group stage at the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 we’ve seen some outstanding displays from the midfielders, both those of the deeper persuasion and those whose primary task is in a more advanced role.

Now it’s your turn to vote and help to decide just which of the following five players was the best midfielder of the group stage.


Theerathon Bunmathan (Thailand) 

Although he did occasionally drop back into a more familiar left-back role, by and large the Thailand captain was stationed in a central midfield position where he continued to star.

Having played there at club level recently it’s not a totally unfamiliar role but certainly on the international stage it was a drastic change and the fact that the 32-year-old could still dominate matches is a testament to his overall technical level.

A standout threat from both open play and set-piece situations, Theerathon’s 19 chances created is almost double the number of the next closest player and he also has three assists to his name to sit second on that tally.

Nguyen Hoang Duc (Vietnam)

Despite having started on the bench in the final two group matches, Nguyen Hoang Duc has still been a real presence for the Golden Star Warriors.

With eight chances created and a pair of assists, his attacking qualities have shone through as has his defensive work where he’s picked up four clearances and two interceptions.

Tasked in both a deeper and a slightly more advanced central role, the 24-year-old continues to build his reputation as one of the best midfielders in the region.

Marselino Ferdinan (Indonesia)

Tipped pre-tournament as one of the young stars to watch, the 18-year-old has very much lived up to that billing.

Shifting between roles as a box-to-box midfielder and a more creative number ten, Marselino has looked right at home in his first AFF Championship.

Silky on the ball, willing in the tackle and with fantastic vision and movement, the precocious teenager looks every part a superstar in the making.

Faisal Halim (Malaysia)

One of the breakout stars of the tournament, Faisal Halim will celebrate his 25th birthday on the day of the first leg of the semi-final in Kuala Lumpur where he’ll be looking to continue the party on the pitch.

An absolute dynamo as a left-sided option in Malaysia’s shifting tactical shape, whether he’s drifting wider or tucking in more centrally he’s been a constant threat with his passing, dribbling and shooting.

With three goals to his name, he’s joint-second in the race to be the tournament’s top scorer and is a player who very much sets the tempo for the Harimau Malaya both on and off the pitch.

Stephan Schrock (Philippines)

In his final tournament at the end of a glittering career, Stephan Schrock may not have achieved the team success that he craved but he continued to show his all his quality and experience.

Pushed up front in the Azkals’ 4-4-2 setup, the veteran playmaker showed all his poise and control on the ball and was an admirable leader for a team in transition.

Having represented the Philippines since 2011, he has been a major figure in their transformation to a team that challenges in the AFF Championship and also reached the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 2019. He will be missed both by Azkals fans and supporters across the region.