Timor Leste
Tournament record:
Group stage 2004

Nickname:
O Sol Nascente (The Rising Sun)

National coach:
Fernando Alcantara (Brazil)
They were once the whipping boys of South-East Asian football but none of Timor Leste’s rivals will be taking them lightly when they take part in this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying tournament.

The region’s youngest footballing nation made their debut in the competition in 2004 and they found the going tough on their first four appearances as they lost 14 of the 15 matches they played, conceding 59 goals in the process.

However, they appeared to come of age in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers when wins against Cambodia and Laos and a narrow loss to Myanmar put them on the brink of qualification for the group stage. But needing only a draw against Brunei in their final game, they lost 2-1 to miss out on progression by a single point.

It looked like they might make amends two years ago when they began their qualifying campaign with a 4-2 win over Brunei and a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Myanmar before taking a 2-0 lead against Cambodia in their third game. But they conceded three goals in the final 26 minutes to lose 3-2 and went down 2-0 to Laos to miss out on qualification once again.

The past two years have shown further signs of progression with the Timorese advancing to the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time after a comprehensive victory over Mongolia and producing some positive performances including a 1-1 draw with Palestine when they were denied a famous victory by an equaliser deep in stoppage time.

Back-to-back 3-0 losses to Malaysia in June in the play-off round for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers means they have to meet Chinese Taipei over two legs in September and October to progress further in that competition but those competitive game may serve as a good warm-up for them ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Cambodia.
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