What we learned as Indonesia open AFF Championship campaign with win, Philippines bounce back emphatically

Indonesia got their 2022 AFF Championship campaign off to a winning start on Friday with a 2-1 win over Cambodia in Group A. SPORTFIVE

Match Day 2 of the Group A action in the 2022 AFF Championship took place on Friday and, already, the qualification picture is starting to get intriguing with all five teams now in action.

After sitting out the first round of games on Tuesday, Indonesia got their campaign up and running with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Cambodia, while Philippines bounced back from a shock opening defeat with an emphatic 5-1 rout of minnows Brunei Darussalam.

With defending champions Thailand not in action on Friday, it means four teams are currently tied at the top of Group A with the Bruneians yet to pick up any points.

Here, we look at four key takeaways after the second round of matches in Group A.

Indonesia's young guns are ready to shine once again

Indonesia capture the imagination at the 2020 edition of the tournament when a young and vibrant outfit exhilarated fans on their way to reaching the final.

Two bright prospects from that team to really enhance their reputations were Witan Sulaeman and Egy Maulana, and it did not take either of them long to make their mark at this year's competition.

Egy opened the scoring at Gelora Bung Karno inside seven minutes with a neat volleyed finish at the back post, before Witan netted what proved to be the winner in the 35th minute after Sareth Krya had equalised for the Cambodians.

While the victory may not have been as convincing as some expected, a winning start coupled with some excellent displays from two of their young guns bodes well for Indonesia.

Cambodia continue to show improvement in defeat

Despite losing to the Indonesians, a competitive display by Cambodia once again highlighted the improvement they have made in the past 12 months -- when they lost 4-2 to the same opponents last December.

Together with an impressive opening day win over Philippines, it is shaping up to be a positive campaign for the Cambodians.

They may ultimately fall short in reaching the semifinals given they still have a tough test against Thailand to come on the final day of Group A action on Jan. 2, but they should pick up another three points against Brunei before that.

Even a draw in that tie -- and a total haul of four points -- would be their best display ever in AFF Championship history.

Azkals bounce back but now face two crucial ties

On paper, a 5-1 rout of Brunei has gotten Philippines' campaign back on track but, in truth, they have plenty to do if they are to return to the semifinals after missing out in 2020.

That defeat to Cambodia still threatens to be costly as they take on Thailand next, before finishing up against Indonesia after sitting out the Match Day 4 action.

Both ties will see them come up against sides they are expected to directly compete against for the two semifinal berths, and Philippines are likely to head into both games are the underdogs.

Their hopes of making it out of the group stage could just come down to the finale against Indonesia, where they will have to make the most of home advantage with the tie taking place at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.

Brunei will learn from humbling defeats

Just two games into their first AFF Championship appearance since 1996, Brunei have already had ten goals put past them and look like they could have more misery dealt their way by the time the group stage is over.

Nonetheless, it is crucial that this short-term pain is translated to long-term gain.

For the first time in a long while, the Wasps are being exposed to tournament-style competition against Southeast Asian's leading teams with matches in quick succession.

Brunei were always going to find themselves outclassed but they need to make the most of the exposure, and Ramizie Ramlli's goal against Philippines -- only their second ever at the AFF Championship -- would have been a nice consolation.