The AFF Suzuki Cup has seen its fair share of tough tacklers and brave backline battlers during its celebrated history. Here are five nominees for best-ever defenders to step onto the field at the ASEAN championships. Vote for your favourite!

Honourable Mentions

Mahali Jasuli (Malaysia), Zaw Min Tun (Myanmar), Daniel Bennett (Singapore), Natee Thongsookkaew (Thailand), Huynh Quang Thanh (Vietnam)

1. Dusit Chalermsan (Thailand)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2002, 2000, 1998

 

We begin our list with arguably one of Southeast Asian football’s greatest and most decorated defenders.

With over 120 international appearances for his nation, former Thailand left-back Dusit Chalermsan won the Suzuki Cup three times to add to his glittering array of silverware that includes four SEA Games gold medals.

Likened to Paolo Maldini by Suzuki Cup legend Noh Alam Shah, Dusit was composed on the ball and hard to get past without it, excelling with club spells in Thailand, India and Vietnam alike.

He was also a threat on goal in his own right, his set-piece skill netting him 14 goals for the War Elephants.

2. Aide Iskandar (Singapore)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2007, 2004, 1998

Captain fantastic Aide Iskandar wore the Lions armband during one of the golden eras of Singaporean football.

A member of the side when his nation won the second AFF Suzuki Cup, Aide was promoted to skipper for the championship-winning campaigns of 2004 and 2007 under celebrated coach Raddy Avramovich. 

An elegant ball-playing centre-back, Aide was often partnered by Home United teammate S. Subramani and the duo, who seemed to have a telepathic understanding, proved a formidable rearguard action.

Aide won over 120 caps for Singapore before turning to coaching, and he was part of the staff when the Lion City lifted the Suzuki Cup in 2012.

3. Nguyen Minh Duc

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2008

While the two previous entries shone over multiple Suzuki Cup campaigns, Nguyen Minh Duc particularly stands out for one tournament: the 2008 edition. 

The right-back was a vital part of the Vietnam side that lifted their first and only Suzuki Cup to date, with some superb performances from Minh Duc on the path to ASEAN glory.

Tactically adept when defending, but equally effective when joining the attack, Minh Duc was the perfect full-back in Vietnam’s golden generation. 

Such was the positive impression given by the defender, that he was named his nation’s captain for the 2012 tournament.

4. Fadhli Shas (Malaysia)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2010

Getting his break at the 2010 Suzuki Cup as a result of injuries to Aidil Zafuan and Norhafiz Zamani, Fadhli Shas’ first taste of the tournament was not the best: a 5-1 opening loss to Indonesia.

A result that might have weakened a less mature player, Fadhli – then only 19 years old – rose to the challenge and helped Harimau Malaya lift the Suzuki Cup for the first time in their history.

He would then become Malaysia’s first choice centre back on merit, partnering Aidil Zafuan, and was an ever-present at the 2012 and 2014 campaigns, with the nation finishing as runner-up in the latter edition.

Still only 27, Fadhli has gone on to enjoy a trophy-filled career with heavyweights Johor Darul Ta’zim, and was a part of the side that lifted the 2015 AFC Cup.

5. Mohammad Nasuha (Indonesia)

AFF Suzuki Cup Runner-up – 2010

Much like Terry Butcher at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, the iconic image of Mohammad Nasuha is with his head swathed in bloody bandages, as he continues to play on for his country.

But not only should the Indonesia left-back be lauded for his bravery, but also for his fine displays at the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, where Nasuha was an ever-present as his nation reached the final.

A defeat to Malaysia at the competition’s climax, in which Nasuha scored, was a disappointing end to a wonderful tournament for the man from Serang.

After spells at powerhouses Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung, Nasuha – now 33 years old – has suffered from injuries and drops in form, and was last seen playing in the lower tiers of Indonesian football.