Winners in 2008; Runners up in 1998;
Doi Tuyen Vietnam (Team representing Vietnam), The Golden Star
Nguyen Huu Thang (Vietnam)
After topping their group and beating Malaysia 2-1 away from home in the last four, the talk was of a final between Vietnam and Thailand.
But they were repeatedly caught napping at the back by Malaysia in the first half of the return leg and shipped four goals in front of their disbelieving fans at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.
Two goals by the seemingly evergreen Le Cong Vinh narrowed the gap but Malaysia held out to win an extraordinary semi-final 5-4 on aggregate.
With their midfield looking sharp and inventive and Cong Vinh in a scoring mood, Vietnam impressed during the group stage.
A goalkeeping error cost them a late goal in the 2-2 draw with Indonesia before they knocked three goals past Laos. Needing to beat the already-qualified Philippines to leapfrog them into top spot, they made no mistake with an accomplished 3-1 victory.
Vietnam showed a lot of character to come from behind to beat Malaysia in the first leg of the semi-final but their hopes of a place in the final turned to dust in the first half of the return match.
Since then, home and away losses to Thailand proved damaging in the 2018 FIFA World Cup/ 2019 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers although they did hold Iraq to a 1-1 home draw.
Nguyen Huu Thang, a former Vietnam international, took over as coach from Japan’s Toshiya Miura in March and he has raised the possibility of introducing naturalised players into the squad to make it “stronger and better” ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016.