Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines fly the Asean flag at Asian Cup, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines fly the Asean flag at Asian Cup

Newly minted Asean champions Vietnam, regional powerhouses Thailand and the rising Philippines will be hoping to do South-east Asia proud at the Asian Cup, which kicks off tomorrow.

Thanks to the tournament's expansion from 16 to 24 teams, South-east Asia will be represented on the continental stage for the first time since 2007, when the quadrennial showpiece was co-hosted by four Asean countries - Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Asean's top three sides, who are helmed by high-calibre foreign coaches, have all been set targets of reaching the knockout stage.

To do so, they must finish in the top two of their respective groups or among the four best third-placed teams from the six groups.

Vietnam will be pinning their hopes on their South Korean coach Park Hang Seo, who led his team to the Asian U-23 Championship final and the Asian Games semi-finals en route to winning the Suzuki Cup last year.

Vietnam are in Group D with Iran, Iraq and Yemen and Park will be pitting his tactical acumen against Carlos Queiroz, who had led Iran to the World Cup.

In Group A, Thailand coach Milovan Rajevac will hope that the return of their star trio - Teerasil Dangda, Chanathip Songkrasin and Theerathon Bunmathon - will give them the edge over hosts UAE, India and Bahrain.

In Group C, the Philippines, who are coached by ex-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, will be facing off against two other big-name tacticians - China's Marcello Lippi, who masterminded Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph, and South Korea's Paulo Bento, who led Portugal to the Euro 2012 semi-finals.