After having cast our eye over the Group A coaches earlier in the week it’s time to turn to the second group of five men who will have a major say in just which nation gets to hold the AFF Suzuki Cup trophy aloft in mid-December.

Amongst that quintet there’s the full spectrum of experience with a 42-year-old unexpectedly thrust into his first senior coaching role, another who took charge of a nation that reached the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals three editions ago, a national icon and a couple of others with vast experience of Southeast Asian football.

Time to have a closer look then at the five coaches who hold the hopes and dreams of millions in their hands as they scheme, plot and plan for ways to secure a top two finish in a very tricky Group B.

Thailand – Milovan Rajevac

The only coach amongst the finalists to have led a nation at a FIFA World Cup, the vastly experienced Serbian mentor has the pressure of trying to ensure Thailand can defend its title without four key foreign-based stars.

Having come within three matches of winning that global showpiece with Ghana back in 2010 he certainly has the pedigree and knowledge to be able to cope with those absences as well as the serious pressure that will be placed on one of Southeast Asia’s true heavyweights.

Name: Milovan Rajevac

Age: 64

Nationality: Serbia

Appointed: 2017

Career Highlights: 2010 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals (Ghana)

Did you know? As a player, Rajevac spent four years in the now defunct American Indoor Soccer League where he played for the New York Arrows and was known as ‘Mike’ Rajevac – a period he called the ‘best time of his life.’


Indonesia – Bima Sakti

A couple of weeks ago the former national star was preparing for life as an assistant at the AFF Suzuki Cup but with Luis Milla unable to reach an agreement to continue his tenure with the Merah Putih the 42-year-old was thrust into the main role.

Along with the Cambodian duo of Keisuke Honda & Felix Dalmas this will be Bima’s first time flying solo with a senior team but with a measured demeanour, vast knowledge of the playing group and respect of the squad he’s well placed to make an immediate impact.

He'll also become the first Indonesian to have both played and coached at the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Name: Bima Sakti

Age: 42

Nationality: Indonesia

Appointed: 2018

Career Highlights: This is his first full time coaching appointment but as a player he had a decorated career, winning the Indonesian league title with PSM Makassar in 2000 and a bronze medal with the national team at the 1999 SEA Games.

Did you know? The former hard-tackling midfielder was named after the galaxy that contains the solar system - the ‘Milky Way’ - with that being the literal translation of his name in Bahasa Indonesia.


Philippines – Scott Cooper

Having spent half a decade in Thailand where he led Buriram to unprecedented heights in 2013, Cooper has been linked with several national teams right across Asia for several years before the Philippines swooped earlier this year.

Already he’s garnered some impressive results with draws in the Middle East against Bahrain and Oman and with his vast knowledge of Southeast Asian football, the 48-year-old English coach could well be the man to deliver the Azkals their maiden AFF Suzuki Cup title in 2018.

Name: Scott Cooper

Age: 48

Nationality: England

Appointed: 2018

Career Highlights: 2016 Thailand League 2 runner-up (Ubon UMT United)

Did you know? After spending time in the USA as a student athlete, Cooper had a wild ride as coach in the American Indoor Soccer League – at the time a very popular competition – where he coached the Daytona Beach Speedkings in 1997 and then the renamed Huntsville Fire in 1998 before the short-lived league folded at the end of that season.


Singapore – Fandi Ahmad

A name that needs no introduction across Southeast Asia and beyond, Fandi is football royalty in Singapore for his feats as a player.

As a coach too he has shown his qualities, twice winning the S.League and also capturing the 2015 Malaysia FA Cup in charge of a Lions XII side from which he’s drawn heavily for the senior squad that will be looking to add to their four AFF Suzuki Cup titles.

Name: Fandi Ahmad

Age: 56

Nationality: Singapore

Appointed: 2018

Career Highlights: Two-time S.League winner (SAF, 2000, 2002), Malaysia FA Cup winner (Lions XII, 2015)

Did you know? Fandi comes from footballing royalty in Singapore with his father, Ahmad Wartam a former international goalkeeper whilst two of his five children, Irfan and Ikhsan are current Singaporean internationals.


Timor-Leste - Norio Tsukitate


The experienced Japanese mentor took charge of Timor only earlier this year but it will be his second time being involved with O Sol Nascente after previously having led the nation’s U15, U16, U18 & U19 teams back in 2011-2012.

Having previously steered both Guam and Bhutan to unexpected results against strong opposition he’ll be aiming to do the same at the AFF Suzuki Cup with the Timorese underdogs after he masterminded an impressive qualification win in the two-legged tie with Brunei Darussalam back in September.

Name: Norio Tsukitate

Age: 58

Nationality: Japan

Appointed: 2018

Career Highlights: Has led three national teams (Guam, Bhutan & Timor) as well as securing qualification for the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.

Did you know? During a spell in charge of Guam, Tsukitate oversaw that nation’s first ever international victory as they edged Mongolia 1-0 in qualification for the 2010 East Asian Championships.

Photos: Getty Images, PSSI, PFF, FAS