Thailand head cast in Group B as the reigning champions looks to hold on to gold

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

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2015 gold medalist Thailand are drawn in Group B for the 2017 KL SEA Games where the challenges of Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia and Timor Leste all await them. Goal profiles the six teams vying for two semi-final spots in Group B.


How they did in 2015: The War Elephants was in electric mood two years ago as they blitzed their way to the gold medal. Five wins out of five in the group stage and only one goal conceded, no teams could live with them. Similar one-sided games in the semi-final and final saw Thailand defeating Indonesia and Myanmar respectively to retain the gold they won in 2013.

Record in SEA Games: The undisputed kings of South-East Asia, Thailand has won the tournament 15 times, nine more than second place Malaysia. We would have to go back to 2011 for the last time Thailand failed to reach the final, such is their dominance in the event.

Who's the coach: Worrawoot Srimaka is the man tasked to bring home yet another gold for Thailand. The former international was once on the books of Kelantan in the Malaysia League and is a renowned figure in these part of the world. Worrawoot himself has also picked up three gold medal in this competition back in 1995, 1997 and 1999.

Player to watch: Striker Chenrop Samphaodi will be the one counted on by Thailand to get the goals. The BEC TERO Sasana player was part of the winning team in 2015 and has also made his senior bow in a match against South Korea last year.

Recent form: Despite finishing second in the group behind Malaysia, Thailand still made it to the AFC U23 finals next year. Poor weather made their situation difficult but victories over Malaysia and Mongolia put Worrawoot's men in good form coming into the SEA Games.


How they did in 2015: Despite an opening game defeat to Myanmar, Indonesia rallied in the remaining three matches - winning against Singapore, Cambodia and Philippines to reach the semi-final stage. However, they came up against a strong Thailand side and had to bow out of the gold medal running. A despondent Indonesian side subsequently went on to lose to Vietnam in the fight for the bronze medal.

Record in SEA Games: Indonesia have won the gold twice before in the long history of the SEA Games. Their last triumph came in the 1991 edition and were last in the gold medal contention back in 2011 where they lost to Malaysia in the final.

Who's the coach: Arguably the most famous of coaches present at the tournament, Luis Milla is one of those rare players to have spent long periods playing for both Barcelona and Real Madrid. The 51-year-old Spaniard took over from Alfred Riedl early this year, having managed Real Zaragoza in 2016.

Player to watch: Ezra Walian is the star name in this Indonesian side. As a former player at Yong Ajax in Holland, Walian had previously represented the Oranje at Under-19 level before making the switch to Indonesia. A pay striker, Walian also recently attended trials at Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United.

Recent form: Indonesia did not make it to the AFC U23 finals next year as Milla's first assignment ended in disappointment after only finishing third behind Malaysia and Thailand in the recent qualifiers. Their only group stage win was achieved over plucky Mongolia 


How they did in 2015: Vietnam edged out Malaysia to qualify from the group stage two years ago, accompanying Thailand to the semi-final. Apart from the one defeat to the Thais, Vietnam managed to win the other four group matches. They were however surprisingly undone by Myanmar in the semi-final but bounced back to claim the bronze medal after defeating Indonesia.

Record in SEA Games: Vietnam has only ever picked up the gold medal once, which they achieved in the inaugural games back in 1959. The closest they have come in recent times was in 2005 when they lost to Thailand in the final.

Who's the coach: Nguyen Huu Thang is in charge of this team as well as the full senior side. The former Song Lam coach took over the role from Toshiya Miura in 2016 and led the senior side to the semi-finals of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.

Player to watch: Luong Xuan Truong is already a fixture in the senior side and is only of few Vietnam players plying their trade outside of the country. A player of Gangwon FC in the K-League, Xuan Truong is the controller in midfield for Vietnam where he is expected to be the one to lead his team.

Recent form: Vietnam easily qualified for the AFC U-23 finals in a group that contained South Korea, Macau and Timor Leste. The highly-fancied South Koreans had to dig deep to beat Vietnam 2-1 but big wins over the other two teams, ensured Vietnam come into the SEA Games high on motivation and form.

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How they did in 2015: The Azkals suffered a humiliating exit from the 2015 competition after they finished bottom of the group. With no points gained and four straight defeats, Philippines had a -7 goal difference deficit after the completion of the group stage.

Record in SEA Games: Philippines have never won a medal at the games, let alone a gold medal. Their last best achievement was when the games were held in their own country in 1991 where they finished in fourth place.

Who's the coach: Marlon Maro is a former international for Philippines and has been handling the team since 2015. The 52-year-old has managed to keep his place despite the disastrous outing in the 2015 games and now has a chance to rectify some of the mistakes from two years ago.

Player to watch: Daniel Gadia is the key men for Maro with the 22-year-old midfielder having already featured for the senior Philippines side. The Meralco Manila player got his international debut in a friendly match against Bahrain in 2016.

Recent form: It hasn't been an easy ride for Maro as his team just came off the back of another assignment in which they failed to register a single point in the AFC U-23 qualifiers. Three straight defeats were suffered at the hands of Japan, China and Cambodia last month.


How they did in 2015: Cambodia had a decent time in 2015 despite only gaining one win out of four matches. Their solitary win was when they defeated Philippines 3-1, which also motivated them to hold Myanmar 3-3, going out in the group stage.

Record in the SEA Games: Like Philippines, Cambodia have never gotten a medal in the football event nor have they ever qualified for the semi-final stage.

Who's the coach: Brazilian Leonardo Vitorino was previously coaching at Lanexang United in Laos before being offered the national team job. Vitorino also had spells coaching in the Middle East and United States.

Player to watch: 20-year-old Nagaworld striker Sary Matnorotin will be the main focus on the Cambodian side. He is another who have also made his senior appearance, in a match between Cambodia and Bhutan in 2015.

Recent form: Vitorino will have a happy squad with him who only recently held China to a 0-0 draw in the AFC U-23 qualifiers in July. That fantastic result was further boosted by a single goal win over Philippines in the last group match.

Timor Leste

How they did in 2015: Timor Leste finished fifth out of six teams in the group stage for an early exit out of the competition in 2015. However, they did managed to secure a win over Brunei despite the four other defeats suffered.

Record in SEA Games: Given that Timor Leste has a short history as a nation, they have only participated in the SEA Games from the 2009 edition onwards but has thus far failed to advance past the group stage.

Who's the coach: Kim Shin-Hwan is the head coach for Timor Leste and he has been dubbed by South Korean media as Timor Leste's own Guus Hiddink for the work that he has put in. 

Player to watch: 19-year-old Rufino Gama will be the one to watch out for. The striker has already scored two goals for the senior and also found the back of the net in the recent AFC U-23 qualifiers.

Recent form: Tiny Timor Leste had a credible outing in the AFC U-23 qualifiers. Despite only finishing third in the group, they managed to hold South Korea to a draw as well as beating Macau by a massive 7-1 scoreline.