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Thailand Wins 2022 AFF Cup Despite Drastic Change in Squad

Pathum Thani

Thailand successfully defended the title at the 2022 AFF Cup after winning 3-2 on aggregate over Vietnam in the final. In fact, coach Alexandre Polking only called seven old players who appeared in the previous edition.

They are Theerathon Bunmathan, Sarach Yooyen, Adisak Kraisorn, Teerasil Dangda, Bordin Phala, Kritsada Kaman, and Weerathep Pomphan. 16 other players did not take part in the 2020 AFF Cup.

There are no more names like Supachok Sarachat and Chanathip Songkrasin who play in the J-League, or mixed-race players like Manuel Bihr, Philip Roller and Tristan Do. 95 percent of players in the 2022 AFF Cup also play domestically.

Only one person, namely Sanrawat Dechmitr, played at Kedah Darul Aman (Malaysia). Even so, their pace remains unstoppable. This shows how big the talent pool of Thai players is. It doesn’t matter who you call.

During the tournament, only Malaysia was able to win over Thailand, and even that was only a fictitious hope in the first leg of the semifinals because the Malayan Tigers were then beaten 0-3 in the second leg. Vietnam could not even beat Thailand in Hanoi.

The War Elephant squad also managed to score 19 goals during the 2022 AFF Cup. That was slightly better than the 2020 edition, when they ‘only’ scored 18 goals.

Thailand’s success in defending the AFF Cup title is a lesson that qualified squad depth can be produced from good and regular competition. Their top scorer, Teerasil didn’t even play in the two finals but still won.

There is no need to doubt the quality of the Thai League, especially now that they have won two direct passes to the Champions League group phase. Teams like Bangkok Glass even advanced to the knockout stages this season.

Apart from that, there are still other teams such as Buriram United, Chiangrai United, and Muangthong United who have also appeared in the group phase, not just playing in the playoffs. Once again, the depth of their national team squad is supported by a good league.

The majority of Thai players in the 2022 AFF Cup play in the local league. Photo: AFP/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA

Therefore, there is no need to be surprised if Thailand has won the AFF Cup seven times, with four of them being won in the last five editions. Because, if the competition is good, the national team will also be good.

(adp/ran)

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