Malaysia and Myanmar favourites to advance from Group A

Goal profiles every team in Group A of the 2017 KL SEA Games, this profile is brought to you by Schick Quattro Titanium 4

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It will be an exciting battle in the football event in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games as 11 teams battle it out for the glory of the gold medal. Here, Goal profiles Group A where host Malaysia are drawn together with Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei and Laos. 


How they did in 2015: In the last games in Singapore two years ago, Malaysia failed to qualify out from the group stage - finishing only third in the group behind Thailand and Vietnam. A heavy 5-1 loss to Vietnam was quickly followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat to Thailand that doused Malaysia's hopes of reaching the knock-out stage.

Record in SEA Games: Malaysia has won the gold medal six times, last doing it in the 2011 edition. Historically, Malaysia has always been one of the main contenders for this event and in the last two games that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia managed to enter the final - winning one (1989) and losing the other (2001).

Who's the coach: Datuk Ong Kim Swee took over the head coach role from Frank Bernhardt early in 2017 but has had prior experience leading squads to the SEA Games. This will be his fourth time in the tournament, making him the most experienced coach in the tournament.

Player to watch: Kedah Syafiq Ahmad will assume one of the forward positions for Ong's team and he will the one that the country depend on to find the back of the next. He is prolific in front of goal with is constantly getting himself in the right position to be a dangerman.

Recent form: The Malaysian team just came off the back of qualifying for the 2018 AFC U23 finals after fending off the challenges of Thailand and Indonesia. To do that in Thailand's own backyard and with a squad that was shorn of a few key players - is a great motivation for the team ahead of the SEA Games.


How they did in 2015: Like Malaysia, Singapore also finished third in their group and thus had an early exit from the tournament that was held in their country. A slim 1-2 defeat to Myanmar saw their victors accompanying Indonesia into the semi-finals stage.

Record in SEA Games: Singapore has never won the gold medal in the tournament though they did come close on three different occasions. However the last time that they entered the final was the one in 1989. Perhaps playing in Kuala Lumpur will once again work in their favour.

Who's the coach: Frenchman Richard Tardy is Singapore's head coach, a man whose experience saw him managing in the Greece Super League as well as Lebanon national team in the past. 

Player to watch: Home United's Adam Swandi is the main man for Singapore and it will be on him that his team look for inspiration. Home United's great run in the 2017 AFC Cup has put Adam in the limelight and the stage is set for him to shine at the KL games.

Recent form: Singapore failed to qualify for the 2018 AFC U23 Championship after they only finished third in the group that contained Australia, Myanmar and Brunei. Only a win over Brunei saved them from total embarrassment after losses to the other two teams. 

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How they did in 2015: Myanmar finished top of their group in 2015, staying unbeaten in the group stage after four matches played. However, their road to glory was blocked by eventual winners Thailand, who handed them a 3-0 beating in the final.

Record in SEA Games: Myanmar is only one shy of the record Malaysia holds as they have won the gold medal five times before. However that was a long time ago in the 60's and 70's when they games was still known as Southeast Asian Peninsular Games. Such was their dominance then, they won five straight gold medals from 1965 to 1973.

Who's the coach: Gerd Zeise is the head coach and the German is also the one tasked with taking care of the senior national team. Zeise has built this team in the last few years with the height coming in 2015 when they participated in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the core of players then are now in this Under-22 squad.

Player to watch: The 21-year-old Aung Thu will be the striker that strikes fear into defences at the SEA Games. The diminutive Yadanarbon FC player is built like Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and in fact plays a bit like him. Possessing fantastic ball control, Aung's dribbling skills are one to watch.

Recent form: Myanmar finished between Australia and Singapore in the AFC U23 qualifiers in July but the six points garnered in the group stage wasn't enough for them to qualify for the finals in China next year. They did however beat Singapore and Brunei, who coincidentally are also their opponents here in Kuala Lumpur.


How they did in 2015: It was a disastrous outing for Brunei in the 2015 edition, they finished last in their group without a single point gained. They only managed to score two goals but shipped in 17 over the course of the five matches played.

Record in SEA Games: Brunei have failed to win a single medal, be it gold, silve or bronze in all the editions of the games. Their best achievement came in 1983 when they reached the semi-final stage but eventually finished fourth after losing to Malaysia in the third place play-off.

Who's the coach: South Korean Kwan Oh-son is the head coach for Brunei and he has been working with the country through different levels since 2008. The now 58-year-old was once part of the South Korea national team, playing between 1979 to 1982.

Player to watch: Faiq Bolkiah is the star name in the side given his current status as part of the reserve team at English Premier League club side, Leicester City Football Club. The 19-year-old was once on the books at Arsenal Football Club and the midfielder has already earned full international cap with the Brunei senior team.

Recent form: Brunei was in the same group as Singapore and Myanmar in the AFC U23 qualifers and they suffered in all three matches played, losing all three of them. Azim Izamuddin was the only player to find the back of the next in the 270 minutes of football that Brunei played in the qualifiers.


How they did in 2015: Laos finished fourth in the group stage and did not make the knockout stage in 2015. They managed to secure two wins over Brunei and Timor Leste, as well as holding their own against more fancied opponents in Vietnam and Malaysia.

Record in SEA Games: Laos has never finished in the gold or silver medal positions but did managed to win the bronze medal back in 2009. As host country then, Laos reached the semi-final only to lose to Malaysia. They would however secure third place after defeating Singapore in the play-off.

Who's the coach: Singaporean Mike Wong is the man in charge of Laos, moving to the tiny country after last heading Brunei for three years before that. The 51-year-old Wong was also previously managing at Geyland United in the S-League.

Player to watch: 19-year-old Khamphanh Sonthanalay is the key individual in Wong's squad. The Lao Toyota FC forward has already made his full international bow for the Laos senior team and scored twice in the recent AFC U-23 qualifiers.

Recent form: Laos could only finish third behind North Korea and Hong Kong in the July AFC U-23 qualifiers. However, they did manage to secure a decent 3-1 win over Chinese Taipei in which Sonthanalay grabbed a brace of goals in that match.

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