NXGN 2021: The 25 best ASEAN wonderkids in football

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  1. 25 NXGN ASEAN Ronaldo Kwateh

    25. RonaldoKwateh

    He does not just have a name that promises big things, but Ronaldo Kwateh has the skills to go with it.

    The Indonesian youngster with Liberian roots is widely regarded as one of his country’s biggest talents and Madura United were quick to snap him up earlier this year following a previous spell with the Persib academy.

    Still only 16, the attacker made his first-team debut for Madura in the Piala Menpora win over PSS Sleman and he will be hoping to build on that in the 2021 Liga 1 campaign.

  2. 24 NXGN ASEAN Zikri Khalili

    24. ZikriKhalili

    One of many Mokhtar Dahari Academy graduates finding his way to Selangor, Zikri Khalili is one of the few who has already made the step up to the first team at the Red Giants.

    The left-back made his Malaysia Super League debut against Felda United in October 2020 and has really stepped it up a notch in 2021.

    Zikri started in two of Selangor's opening three games of the season and - even though he has since had to settle for a spot on the bench again - it seems a matter of time before he's considered his side's first-choice left-back.

  3. 23 NXGN ASEAN Nguyen Canh Tiep

    23. NguyenCanh

    Having a rich history of producing high-quality goalkeepers, it looks like SLNA have another gem on their hands in Nguyen Canh Tiep.

    The promising shot stopper put in a string of impressive performances during the national Under-17 tournament in 2020 - shining in the semi-final win over PVF after penalties - as he helped his team to the trophy.

    Canh Tiep was subsequently awarded the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award and has since made the step up to SLNA's U-19 squad, where the No.1 continues to make waves with his fine displays between the sticks.

  4. 22 NXGN ASEAN Jakkapong Sanmahung

    22. JakkapongSanmahung

    Jakkapong Sanmahung is one of many promising youngsters coming through the Chonburi academy.

    The tall centre-back has represented Thailand at underage level all the way from the Under-14s up to the U-18s, wearing the captain's armband o a regular basis. 

    Jakkapong picked up the MVP Award at the 2015 Chang Everton Junior Cup, only to repeat that feat at the 2017 Nike Premier Cup.

    Having previously enjoyed a loan spell with Thai League 3 outfit Banbueng, he is currently plying his trade at Khon Kaen United as he continues his development with an eye on breaking into the first team at Chonburi in the not too distant future.

  5. 21 NXGN ASEAN Felix Kamuru

    21. AlexandroFelix

    Alexandro Felix Kamuru has often been compared to the likes of former Indonesia star Ortizan Solossa, as well as Real Madrid star Marcelo, and it it easy to see why.

    The young left-back is solid in defence, but stands out in particular for his attacking contributions and has all the characteristics one would expect to see in a modern full-back.

    Indonesia U-16 coach Bima Sakti is a keen admirer of the youngster and has little doubt Kamuru has what it takes to make it at the highest level, with his attitude and positive approach making him a joy to work with for any coach.

  6. 20 NXGN ASEAN Warakorn Thongbai

    20. WarakornThongbai

    Warakorn Thongbai has long been on the radar of Thai football fans following his stellar performances in the highschool football scene.

    One of the country's biggest talents, the young forward netted an impressive 18 goals in 14 games for Chonburi's youth team, while also scoring four goals in a friendly match between Thailand Under-16 and their peers from Atletico Madrid.

    Got his first minutes at senior level in Thai League 3 while on loan at Banbueng, before stepping things up a notch a division higher at Khon Kaen United.

    A true goalmachine and a player who will only get better as he gets more minutes under his belt.

  7. 19 NXGN ASEAN La Min Htwe

    19. LaMin

    Myanmar might not have the richest football history across the ASEAN region, but that might change in the not too distant future if La Min Htwe has his way.

    The young attacker is considered to be one of his country's biggest talents to have made the cut in recent years and both fans and pundits alike have high hopes for La Min to make an impact at senior level similar to his achievement for Myanmar's youth teams.

    The No.9 is surprisingly strong in the air, has pace to burn and his clever movement in combination with his calmness in front of goal make him a nightmare for defenders.

  8. 18 NXGN ASEAN Hakeme Yazid

    18. HakemeYazid

    The DPMM youngster scored on his professional league debut back in 2019 at the tender age of 16, finding the net against Geylang International in the absence of the injured Andrey Varankow.

    Fans of the Singapore Premier League would have expected to see more of Hakeme Yazid Said in 2020, but the Covid-19 situation and the subsequent travel restrictions meant DPMM were forced to withdraw from the SPL both last year and this campaign, much to the disappointment of the gifted attacker.

    The younger brother of Brunei international Shah Razen Said might thus not have made as many headlines as expected as a result of the pandemic, but it seems inevitable that we will see more of the lethal striker as the world slowly but surely returns to normal.

  9. 17 NXGN ASEAN Supriadi

    17. MochammadSupriadi

    Indonesia has never had a shortage of lightning-fast wingers and Mochammad Supriadi could very well be the next one on that long list.

    The attacker's hard work off the pitch, running on the beach as well as chasing motorcycles to improve his physique and pace, is benefiting him well on it, but there's so much more to Supriadi than just speed. 

    He's got an eye for goal and is mature beyond his age, something that has not gone unnoticed with Indonesia boss Shin Tae-yong.

    Supriadi already made his first-tam debut for Persebaya in August 2019, but if his performances at the Piala Menpora are anything to go by, this could be the year that he comes an undisputed Liga 1 star.

  10. 16 NXGN ASEAN Bagas Kaffa

    16. BagasKaffa

    Whereas his twin brother Bagus Kahfi decided to pursue a career abroad, Bagas Kaffa opted to stay in Indonesia and that is very much proving to be the right call.

    The defender has quickly become an integral part of the first team at Barito Putera and is widely expected to be his team's first-choice right-back in 2021.

    Bagas has an impressive physique for a teenager, with his reading of the game and maturity on the pitch adding to his skillset. 

    A hugely important season awaits the gifted youngster, but there appears to be little doubt that a bright future awaits him if he can keep up his recent development.

  11. 15 NXGN ASEAN Marselino Ferdinan

    15. MarselinoFerdinan

    Marselino Ferdinan first rose to prominence about two years ago when he impressed for Indonesia's U-15 squad and people have been keeping a close eye on the talented No.10 ever since.

    Calm and confident on the ball, an eye for the killer pass and the vision to pry open defenes, Marselino is regarded as one of Persebaya's next big stars.

    The attacking midfielder made his official first-team debut at the Piala Menpora and he will be looking to build on that during the regular 2021 Liga 1 campaign.

    He might not have the physique to feature on a weekly basis just yet, but the talent is obvious to see and Persebaya will not hesitate to put their faith in the latest wonderkid to come through.

  12. 14 NXGN ASEAN Ilhan Fandi

    14. IlhanFandi

    The third son of Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad made his Singapore Premier League debut at the tender age of 16 and Ilhan Fandi has been one of the hopes of the nation ever since.

    He initially endured some difficulties in 2020 after enlisting for National Service, but the upside of doing his national duty is that he has bulked up significantly and that extra physical strength is serving him well on the pitch.

    He has made another step in his development this year and was subsequently rewarded with a call-up for the national team earlier in 2021.

    It seems only a matter of time until we see him team up with his older brothers Irfan and Ikhsan for the Lions, with either participation at the SEA Games or AFF Suzuki Cup a realistic option for the skilled attacker, who is equally capable of featuring in midfield. 

  13. 13 NXGN ASEAN Vo Nguyen Hoang

    13. VoNguyen

    The striker has long stood out at youth level due to his impressive physique, often shrugging off smaller opponents with his sheer strength and power.

    The attacker can play as a traditional target man, who is capable of playing with his back to goal to set up his team-mates, but has an eye for goal himself, too.

    Vo Nguyen Hoang represented Vietnam at U-19 level at the age of 17 and has already made a number of V.League appearances for Saigon FC, even finding the net once

  14. 12 NXGN ASEAN Sieng Chanthea

    12. SiengChanthea

    Despite still only being 18, Sieng Chanthea already has multiple caps to his name at senior level for Cambodia. The forward scored on his debut against Pakistan back in June 2019, becoming his country's youngest-ever goal scorer at the age of 16.

    He was snapped up by Cambodian giants Boeung Ket not too long after and then made more history in December 2019 when he scored the fastest goal at the SEA Games, finding the net against Myanmar after a mere 18 seconds.

    He faces stiff competition from the likes of Prak Mony Udom and Keo Sokpheng for a starting berth in the national team, but it seems inevitable that Sieng will soon be his country's undisputed No.9 if he keeps up his current development.

  15. 11 NXGN ASEAN Nguyen Van Bach

    11. NguyenVan

    Nguyen Van Bach wasn't really known to the wider public until he rose to prominence at the 2020 national U-17 tournament with some breathtaking performances.

    He was deservedly voted Player of the Tournament, dazzling both fans and opponents with his sublime skills, pace and impressive physique, and has quickly become one of the new hopes of the nation.

    SLNA will be hoping the creative midfielder can live up to the hype and skyhigh expectations and a V.League debut might be on cards sooner rather than later if he manages to do just that.

  16. 10 NXGN ASEAN Khairin

    10. KhairinNadim

    Breaking records has quickly become second nature for Khairin Nadim.

    The attacker joined Young Lions aged just 15 and made his Singapore Premier League debut aged 15 years and 298 days as a substitute against Hougang United.

    He would likely have become the league's youngest goalscorer, too, had it not been for the global Covid-19 pandemic putting football on hold for most of 2020.

    He has started 2021 with a bang as well, becoming the youngest player ever to hit the five-goals mark in the SPL.

    The self-admitted Neymar fan is more than capable of holding his own physically, has an eye for goal and his clever movement often sees him pop up in dangerous positions. Don't be surprised if he hits double figures this campaign.

  17. 09 NXGN ASEAN Nguyen Phi

    9. NguyenPhi

    Nguyen Phi Hoang was the youngest player to appear in the 2020 V. League campaign, making his first-team debut back in September when he came off the bench for Da Nang in the in the 1-0 win over Hai Phong.

    The left-back has built on that in the 2021 season, quickly becoming an important first-team member and regularly featuring in the opening stages of the campaign.

    The youngster - who has been called up for Vietnam's U-22 squad - has pace, power, an eye for space and is strong both going forward and defensively, making him the ideal modern left-back for Da Nang's counterattacking style of play.

  18. 08 NXGN ASEAN David Maulana_

    8. DavidMaulana

    David Maulana's leadership skills and impressive work ethic make him one of those midfielder you only really start missing when he's not around.

    The youngster provides balance to a team and is not too fussed about the spectacular, leaving the thrills and skills to his more attacking team-mates. 

    He was widely expected to emulate some of his peers and make the move to Europe, but is training with PSMS Medan for now as he considers his options.

    A transfer abroad could be just what he needs, though, and Croatian outfit HNK Rijeka are supposedly ready to make a move for the composed playmaker.

  19. 07 NXGN ASEAN Arif Aiman

    7. ArifAiman

    Widely regarded as one of the future stars of Malaysian football, Arif Aiman has been showing exactly why he is so highly rated with a string of superb performances for JDT in 2021.

    The young winger has quickly developed into an integral first-team member since making his official debut in 2020 and has already scored a number of goals for the Malaysian serial winners, with Safawi Rasid's injury trouble at the start of the 2021 campaign giving him a podium to showcase his talent.

    It's easy to forget Arif is still only 19, but there's little doubt the versatile attacker has a bright future ahead of him.

    He will be dreaming of shining at the SEA Games later in 2021, but he might be in line to appear at the AFF Suzuki Cup with the senior Malaysia squad instead if he keeps developing at this pace.

  20. 06 NXGN ASEAN Chatmongkol Rueangthanarot

    6. ChatmongkolRueangthanarot

    One of the players who already has plenty of first-team experience, Chatmongkol Rueangthanarot has quickly developed into an important first-team member at Chonburi following his debut in September 2020.

    The left-back is not afraid to get stuck in - as illustrated by the six yellow cards he received during the 2020-21 season - but is comfortable enough on the ball as well and has everything a modern full-back needs.

    Chatmongkol has already been called up for Thailand's senior team to take part in centralised training camps and it only seems a matter of time that he will make his official debut once international football returns in Southeast Asia.

  21. 05 NXGN ASEAN Elkan Baggott

    5. ElkanBaggott

    Elkan Baggott only really made it onto the radar of Indonesian football fans after impressing during a training camp with the Indonesia U-19 team and he has rapidly become a hugely popular figure.

    The Ipswich Town defender could also have represented Thailand or England at international level, but has made the decision to pick the country of his mother instead.

    His impressive physique and length make him stand out from many fellow Indonesian defenders, but his calm attitude composure on the ball ensure there's far more to him than just a powerful man marker.

    Clubs such as West Ham and Leeds United have been keeping tabs on Elkan, but he is in no rush to leave Ipswich as he is taking things one step at a time.

  22. 04 NXGN ASEAN Jude Soonsup-Bell

    4. JudeSoonsup-Bell

    The Chelsea youngster just misses out on a podium spot, but that doesn’t make him any less of an exciting talent.

    Soonsup-Bell has been making headlines with his impressive performances for the Blues at youth level and was rewarded with his first professional contract back in January 2021.

    The 17-year-old has represented England at underage level, but qualifies for Thailand through his mother. Although the Three Lions might be his first option, that won’t stop Thai fans from dreaming about the gifted forward leading them to silverware.

  23. 03 NXGN ASEAN Luqman Hakim

    3. LuqmanHakim

    Ask a random Malaysian football fan which youngster they're most excited about and the answer will be "Luqman Hakim" nine out of 10 times.

    The tricky attacker was due to leave Malaysia for Belgian outfit Kortrijk when he turned 18 in March 2020, but the move fell through due to the Covid-10 pandemic.

    He ended up at Selangor instead, only to then make the move to Kortrijk after all come July 2020.

    His first season in Europe has not been easy as he has had to adapt to a new culture, new climate and a new language, but his official first-team debut against Anderlecht will be a day the youngster never forgets.

    For Luqman, 2021 will be the year that he needs to take the next step in his development and secure regular football at Kortrijk. 

  24. 02 NXGN ASEAN Bagus Kahfi

    2. BagusKahfi

    Bagus Kahfi is the posterboy of Indonesian football for a variety of reasons, with his iconic hairdo giving him the X-Factor and making him an instant hit with fans.

    That would all have counted for nothing had he not had the skills to go with it, though, and there's no arguing about his immense potential and talent.

    Bagus' clever movement, confidence, power and pace make him a nightmare for defenders and the fact that he tends to be as cool as a cumumber in front of goal makes him equally impopular with opposing goalkeepers.

    The young forward joined Eredivisie outfit Utrecht during the January transfer window and will be slowly eased into senior football in Netherlands.

    He might need a bit of time to find his feet at Utrecht, but the Dutch side could have a true sensation on their hands if "The Bomber from Magelang" can live up to the hype and expectations.

  25. 01 NXGN ASEAN Suphanat Muenta

    1. SuphanatMueanta

    Suphanat Mueanta is a record breaker, a phenomenon and a real crowd favourite. 

    The striker, who can also feature from the wings, made his official Buriram United debut as far back as April 2018, aged just 15 when he came off the bench in the 2-1 Thai League win over Swat Cat.

    One month later, he became the league's youngest ever goalscorer when he netted a brace in the 5-0 win over Air Force Central, aged just 15 years, nine months and 22 days.

    In 2019, he made his AFC Champions League debut against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and then later scored against Beijng Guoan to become the tournament's youngest ever goalscorer.

    Everything went rosy for the Thai wonderkid until he endured some injury problems in 2020, yet he's bounced back with a vengeance this year, scoring twice in seven substitute appearances as he's returning to full fitness.

    Suphanat will be looking to build on that in the new season and don't bet against him breaking even more records in the remainder of 2021.