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Coaches under the spotlight

A number of managerial sub-plots will enhance the story of this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup to be played in December.

Be they internationally famous, locally successful, itinerant or fresh to the Asean scene, the coaches of the competing nations will be talked about and have their performances analysed as much as that of their players.

Former England captain Bryan Robson, who took over the reins of the Thai national team from countryman Peter Reid, will have his team selections and tactics scrutinised by fans and the media alike.

“Captain Marvel”, as he was known during his playing days, is coaching a national team for the first time after stints with Middlesbrough, Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United in England.

Thailand failed to reach the Asian Cup finals under his guidance and he will be trying to make up for that disappointment by delivering the AFF Suzuki Cup to the football-mad country.

Both Vietnam coach Henrique Calisto and Radojko 'Raddy' Avramovic of Singapore have experienced that winning feeling in the elite Asean competition.

Calisto, who is Portuguese, instilled self-belief into his players as they surged to the title in 2008 and former Notts County and Coventry City goalkeeper Avramovic shepherded Singapore to back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2007.

K. Rajagopal was feted in Malaysia after he guided the country’s under-23 footballers to their first Southeast Asian Games title in 20 years last December and has been rewarded with the job of national coach.

Indications are that he will keep faith in many of the youngsters who featured in the glory run in Laos and add a sprinkling of more established players to the squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Alfred Riedl, an extremely popular figure in Vietnam during his time as manager of the national team, has replaced Benny Dollo as coach of Indonesia and the Austrian will be keen to bring the best out of a team, which has surprisingly yet to be crowned champions of Asean.

Former assistant manager of English non-league side Worthing FC, Simon McMenemy has been handed the task of piloting the Philippines through the qualifying tournament in October after hearing about the job from national players Simon and Phil Greatwich.

Another recent recruit, Lee Tae-hoon - an ex-coach of Korea’s women’s team - has been tasked with helping Cambodia to the AFF Suzuki Cup finals for the sixth time.