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Five ASEAN Players to Watch in King's Cup

With K League set to implement an ASEAN quota for players from Southeast Asia next season, fans have begun to take a more keen interest in the players that could be available to Korean clubs next season. Thailand and Vietnam have established themselves as the region's two main powerhouses, fighting for supremacy in a heated and quickly intensifying rivalry. Football Tribe Asia's SEA Editor Gian Chansrichawla takes a look at some of the stars still playing in their domestic leagues which could be tempted by a move to K League next year. 
(Photo Credit: Tien Phong)

The two sides are set to take to the pitch on Wednesday, June 5th, in Thailand’s annual King’s Cup, which this year will be hosted at Buriram United’s Chang Arena. This game provides a perfect showcase for some of the talent that could be making their way to the K League.

Vietnam currently have three foreign-based players in their squad - Dang Van Lam of Muangthong, Luong Xuan Trong of Buriram, and of course Nguyen Cong Phuong, who recently departed from Incheon United. Thailand, meanwhile, have a foreign-based roster of Chanathip Songkrasin (Consadole Sapporo), Thitipan Puangchan (Oita Trinita), Theerathon Bunmathan (Yokohama F. Marinos) and Kawin Thamsatchanan (OH Leuven in Belgium) among their established internationals.

5 - Pansa Hemviboon

(Photo Credit: Zimbio)
Nationality: Thailand
Age: 28
Position: Center-back
Club: Buriram United

Most Jeonbuk fans will probably remember the name of Pansa Hemviboon. Standing at 6-foot-3 he towers over most of his international teammates, and has established himself the defensive bedrock of both Buriram and the War Elephants. Playing in the lower reaches of Thai football as recently as 2016, Pansa’s rise has been meteoric with the Thai champions, as he has starred in the league’s tightest defense for three consecutive seasons. With the central defender soon to reach his peak years, he could be angling for a move abroad to showcase his ability on an even bigger stage.

4 - Doan Van Hau 
(Photo Credit: Dan Viet)
Nationality: Vietnam
Age: 20
Position: Left-back
Club: Hanoi FC

Doan Van Hau has been the subject of numerous bids from four-time Thai League champions Muangthong United, but has stayed put with his current club, Hanoi FC, due to his (controversial) belief that a move to Thailand would not be a sufficient step up from his current situation. As such, the left-back has made no secret of his desire to play in Korea or Japan. With a physically imposing frame to complement his technical ability, he would surely be a valuable addition to many of the continent’s top club sides. With over a decade of top-level professional football potentially ahead of him, it seems highly likely that he could get his dream move soon.

3 - Tristan Do 
(Photo Credit: Lao Dong)
Nationality: Thailand
Age: 26
Position: Right-back
Club: Bangkok United

Off-field issues and a row with former Thailand boss Milovan Rajevac prevented Tristan Do from showing off the full extent of his talent to the continent during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, but his domestic form should be enough to tempt K League clubs to take a punt on the Thai-French right-back. Do joined Bangkok United this year, representing a major statement signing of the capital club’s ambitions to fight for the league title. Playing as an attack minded wingback, he has proven himself to be lethal down the right flank, helping to sustain his club’s break-neck attacking approach and even chipping in with goals and assists himself.

(Photo Credit: Covesia Sport)
2 - Suphanat Mueanta 
Nationality: Thailand
Age: 16
Position: Striker
Club: Buriram United

Suphanat became the youngest ever player to score in the AFC Champions League when he found the net against Beijing Guoan in early April at the age of 16 years and 9 months. While he may find it hard to get on the pitch during the King’s Cup, the fact he is even in the squad at that age has raised hopes that he could be a trailblazer for Thai football. Adept in a variety of attacking roles, Suphanat’s pace, eye for goal and sky-high potential could make him a valuable signing for any club who are looking to invest in the future.

1 - Nguyen Quang Hai

(Photo Credit: Soha)
Nationality: Vietnam
Age: 22
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Hanoi FC

If the 2018 AFF Cup MVP and 2018 Vietnamese footballer of the year awards are not enough to convince you that Nguyen Quang Hai is a special talent, just watching him play should do the trick. Capable of operating in a variety of roles across the midfield, this creative maestro has been the center-piece of one of the most impressive Vietnam sides ever. Even after playing a full domestic season, as well as starring in the 2018 Asian Games and AFF Cup, the attacking midfielder still found the energy to make a major impression in the UAE back in January. He has been on the radar of many Korean, Japanese and even European clubs for a while, and it’s almost impossible to imagine such a talented player staying put in the domestic league for much longer. It isn’t hard to see many Korean clubs viewing him as the big prize when the ASEAN quota opens up next season.

Be sure to follow Football Tribe Asia for all things King's Cup and Gian Chansrichawla directly on Twitter for live updates of the matches!

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