Southeast Asia

Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam Progress to Asian Games Knockout Stages

Hosts Indonesia secured progression into the knockout stage as Group A leaders after an impressive 3-1 home victory over Hong Kong. Goals from Irfan Jaya, Stefano Lilipaly and Hanif Sjahbandi were enough to take all three points for the home side, setting up a last 16 tie with the United Arab Emirates.

Vietnam finished with a perfect record in their group after a shock 1-0 victory over one of the pre-tournament favourites, Japan, completing their group stage with maximum points having yet to concede a goal. They will fancy their chances of building upon their excellent run to the final of the AFC U23 Championships in China earlier this year, with a match against Bahrain awaiting them in the first knockout round.

Malaysia will be the next side to take on Japan, after their place as Group E leaders were secured even before their final game, completing the South-East Asian lineup in the knockout stages. Their victory over defending Champions Korea has given the side a massive boost, and they will likely rate their chances in what appears to be an uphill task against the Samurai Blues.

Four South-East Asian sides – Thailand, Myanmar, East Timor and Laos – have exited the competition, with the latter two nations facing the prospect of elimination even before the final round of group games.

Thailand’s loss against Uzbekistan left the nation waiting until the final day before their exit was confirmed via the third-place ranking, sparking massive uproar at the dismal performance for a side that had come fourth place at the last tournament.

Despite a victory over Iran on the final day, Myanmar was eliminated from the competition due to an inferior goal difference, losing the third-place spot to defending silver medalists North Korea. Their exit means that three of the seven South East Asian nations at the tournament have progressed to the next round. Malaysia, Vietnam and hosts Indonesia are set to the be proverbial flag-bearers for the region ahead of what is likely to be an enthralling knockout round.