How did all the 2022 AFF Championship contenders fare in the latest international window?

Malaysia and Thailand warmed up for the 2022 AFF Championship in December with a meeting against one another at the King's Cup, which the former prevailed 5-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw. Supakit Wisetanuphong/MB Media/Getty Images

With just three months to go to the 2022 AFF Championship, time is running out for the tournament's hopefuls to finalise their preparations for Southeast Asia's premier international tournament.

Considering the past fortnight is the last international break before the next window in November leads directly to the competition, there was plenty on the agenda for the teams and their respective coaches.

Apart from Philippines and Timor-Leste, all other nine teams were in action -- with several locking horns with one another as a precursor to the action that will take place starting Dec. 20 to Jan. 26.

Here, we take a closer look at how each of them fared and what it means leading towards the 2022 AFF Championship.


Sept. 21: Brunei Darussalam 0-3 Maldives
Sept. 27: Brunei Darussalam 1-0 Laos

Having failed to feature at the AFF Championship since the tournament's inception in 1996, Brunei Darussalam will have to negotiate their way past a two-legged qualifier against Timor-Leste in November if they are to return to Southeast Asia's biggest stage for the first time in 13 editions.

Curiously, the Bruneians are currently above Timor-Leste in the FIFA world rankings even though the latter have enjoyed a better record in recent times, but lying 190th is still not much to shout about.

A 3-0 loss to Maldives would have been expected but the Bruneians followed that up with an impressive 1-0 triumph over Laos, which should serve as a real confidence boost ahead of their meeting with the Timorese next month.


Sept. 22: Cambodia 0-1 Bangladesh

Cambodia were in action just once during the international break and it proved to be a disappointment for their supporters who turned up at Morodok Techo National Stadium last Thursday.

Taking on Bangladesh, who sit 18 places behind them in the world rankings at a lowly 192nd, the Cambodians contrived to lose 1-0 in what was a first victory in ten outings for their opponents.

Cambodia manager Keisuke Honda was quick to apologise to fans in the aftermath of the defeat, suggesting the result was indeed a real disappointment and that there is plenty of work to be done in the months ahead.


Sept. 24: Indonesia 3-2 Curacao
Sept. 27: Curacao 1-2 Indonesia

For a team who look firmly on the rise after last year's AFF Championship final appearance was followed up with qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, the past week has only served to strengthen that notion for Indonesia.

Up against a Curacao side sitting 75 spots above them in the world rankings, the 155th-ranked Indonesians showed they are no pushovers by notching back-to-back wins over the Caribbean outfit.

The Dutch-born Marc Klok continues to show he has plenty to offer coach Shin Tae-yong since being naturalised, but it was perhaps Evan Dimas who provided the biggest positive -- netting in both games after having been relegated to a reserve role in last year's run to the AFF final.


Sept. 24: Maldives 3-1 Laos
Sept. 27: Brunei Darussalam 1-0 Laos

Overall, the recent international break will be one to forget for Laos.

While a 3-1 defeat to Maldives would not have been to difficult to swallow, losing to minnows Brunei would previously have been an unfathomable proposition.

Laos have taken huge strides forward at age-group level, sharing the bronze medal with Timor-Leste at this year's AFF U-23 Championship before finishing runners-up at the U-19 equivalent in July, but they remain way down the pecking order -- and running the risk of slipping even further -- on the senior stage.


Sept. 22: Thailand 1-1 Malaysia (3-5 on penalties)
Sept. 25: Tajikistan 0-0 Malaysia (3-0 on penalties)

It was a tale of two shootouts for Malaysia in their first appearance in the King's Cup -- hosted by Thailand -- since 1978.

Having seen off the hosts 5-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the semifinals, Harimau Malaya were then on the receiving end of a 3-0 shootout loss to Tajikistan in the final after a goalless stalemate.

Still, two keenly-contested draws against teams significantly ahead of them in the world rankings can be viewed as positive results, especially considering the Thais are the defending AFF champions and had previously looked to be playing a level above the rest of the field.


Sept. 21: Hong Kong 2-0 Myanmar
Sept. 24: Hong Kong 0-0 Myanmar

Myanmar's lack of recent action -- owing to a stagnant domestic football scene that has been hampered by larger, non-sporting issues the country is facing -- means it has been difficult to get an accurate gauge of where they are.

But based on their recent contests with Hong Kong -- a 2-0 loss and a 0-0 draw -- Myanmar are perhaps where they have been in most of their previous AFF Championship endeavours: a competitive mid-tier outfit that are unlikely to pose a real threat at usurping the big boys.

They do deserve credit for two respectable displays against a team that have qualified for next year's Asian Cup, and a plethora of Myanmar's inexperienced but talented players will have learned plenty from the past week or so.


Did not play any matches over the recent international break.


Sept. 21: Vietnam 4-0 Singapore
Sept. 24: India 1-1 Singapore

After the high of reaching the final four at the previous AFF Championship, Singapore were brought back down to earth with a 4-0 loss to fellow semifinalists Vietnam.

It must however remembered that Vietnam were the only Southeast Asian side that advanced to the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and are still viewed as the region's top team alongside Thailand despite relinquishing the AFF crown they won in 2018 last year.

The Lions followed up with a creditable 1-1 draw with India although they did find themselves under immense pressure, and both outings against higher-ranked opposition should serve them well heading into this year's AFF Championship.


Sept. 22: Thailand 1-1 Malaysia (3-5 on penalties)
Sept. 25: Trinidad and Tobago 1-2 Thailand

On paper, finishing third in the King's Cup that they hosted could be seen as a disappointment for Thailand, especially given this year's edition did not exactly boast illustrious invitees from years gone by such as Denmark and Poland.

Still, they only missed out on a place in the final on penalties even though they probably should have done enough to see off Malaysia in regulation play.

The War Elephants then bounced back by beating Trinidad and Tobago in the third place playoff, and it must be mentioned that coach Alexandre Polking did opt for a bit of experimentation -- with over half his 23-man squad boasting less than 20 caps to their names prior to their recent outings.


Did not play any matches over the recent international break.


Sept. 21: Vietnam 4-0 Singapore
Sept. 27: Vietnam 3-0 India

Just like that, Vietnam once again look like they mean business -- even if convincing victories over Singapore and India came in mere friendlies.

Considering many were quick to usher in Vietnam's demise after their AFF title defence came to an end at the semifinal stage last year, Park Hang-seo and his charges have delivered the perfect statement just three months out from the tournament.

Perhaps even more pleasing to Park will be the fact that it was not the usual suspects that came to the fore but some of the latest additions to the team, none more prominent than the returning Nguyen Van Quyet -- their 2018 AFF-winning captain and a player with undeniable quality, who scored against both Singapore and India.