Throughout the years the AFF Suzuki Cup has been the launching pad for the arrival of a new wave of young stars and the 2018 edition promises to be no different.

Right back to the inaugural tournament when a young Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto starred for Indonesia, through to the emergence of Lionel Lewis in goal for Singapore in 2004, Chanathip Songkrasin a decade later and Cambodian hotshot Chan Vathanaka in the most recent edition, the AFF Suzuki Cup has been littered with young stars making their mark on the regional stage.

Over the next week, we’ll break down some of the next wave of talent who could become household names for years to come, starting today with one starlet from each of the five Group A nations.


Doan Van Hau (Vietnam/Defender)

Along with his club teammate at Hanoi FC, Nguyen Quang Hai, Doan Van Hau is part of an incredibly exciting wave of young Vietnamese talent and he’s already an established senior international despite his tender years.

Traditionally a left full-back, in what’s likely to be a 3-5-2 for Vietnam, the 19-year-old will seemingly be asked to fill a role as a left wing-back and he has both the explosive attacking capabilities as well as the defensive nous to be a breakout star for one of the tournament favourites.


Akhyar Rashid (Malaysia/Forward)

Blessed with pace, a strong technical foundation as well as the ability and desire to run at defenders, Akhyar is set to be a key creative cog for Malaysia.

Primarily a left winger, the 19-year-old Kedah-based starlet will link up with his former club coach, Tan Cheng Hoe, at the AFF Suzuki Cup and those dazzling attacking skills are sure to present opposing defenders with plenty of trouble where he could be a key source of both assists and goals for the 2010 champions.


Lwin Moe Aung (Myanmar/Midfielder)

A mainstay of various youth teams over the past couple of years for Myanmar, Lwin Moe Aung is now on the verge of becoming a fully-fledged regular for the senior team and is certainly a name to watch at the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup.

Able to operate either as a central, deeper or more advanced midfielder, the 18-year-old also showed his versatility by being deployed on the left side of midfield at the recent Asian Games where he was a standout for Myanmar and scored a goal for his nation in the final group match against Asian powerhouse, Iran.

A hard-working presence off the ball where he constantly scurries to shut down opposition attacks, he’s also a classy distributor when in possession and could be a leading cog in what’s set to be a dynamic midfield for the White Angels at the AFF Suzuki Cup.


Bounphachan Bounkong (Laos/Winger)

The jewel in the crown of an impressive young crop of technically gifted midfielders and forwards emerging from Laos, Bounphachan is just 17 but already a rising star in his country who insiders have tipped to be a mainstay of the national team for years to come.

Slight of frame but with superb close control and a willingness to run at defenders, the right winger is a dynamic creative threat who caught the eye in playing in all of his nation’s matches at the recent Asian Games and who could be set for a real breakout in the AFF Suzuki Cup.


In Sodavid (Cambodia/Midfielder)

Long touted as one of the most promising Cambodian youngsters, the 20-year-old was included in his nation’s squad for the previous edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup but failed to make an appearance in the 2016 tournament.

That should likely change now for the silky midfielder, who is a product of the famed Phnom Penh Crown academy and who has showcased his skills for club and country over the past couple of seasons where he’s really caught the eye.

Able to operate anywhere across the central or more advanced midfield areas of the pitch, Sodavid is a dynamic box-to-box option with an impressive passing range, the ability to dictate the tempo of the match and also a strong finish.