With the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 Official Draw now just days away, to be held in Jakarta on May 2, we spoke to two ASEAN experts to get their thoughts on the draw and how they see things potentially playing out.

Gabriel Tan (@gabetan13) is the football editor at FOX Sports Asia, while Cedelf Tupas (@CedelfptINQ) is a sports journalist for Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The format of the tournament has changed this year, with the teams playing two matches at home and two matches away – how do you think those changes will impact the competition?

Tupas: I think the new format sets everyone up for a more exciting, competitive tournament. With all teams hosting at least two matches in the group stage, there’s equal opportunity for everyone to advance to the semi-finals with the lower-rated teams banking on its own crowd. The impact of the home support in the Suzuki Cup cannot be overstated as it gives teams an extra push.

Tan: I think the change is an interesting one.  Obviously, it adds a certain degree of excitement because fans are guaranteed at least two home games so everyone in the region will get to experience AFF Suzuki Cup action in one way or another.

With that format change in mind, which do you think is the most difficult away trip and why?

Tupas: From the Philippines’ point of view, travel wise, Timor Leste, should it qualify can be a tricky test as there are no direct flights from Manila going there and the same could be said with Myanmar and Cambodia. Bangkok may be a quick three-hour flight, but the Philippines has never won against Thailand in the competition. Indonesia will also be a difficult away trip just because their stadium transforms into a cauldron with every home game, making it tough for visiting teams to get results.

Tan: In terms of pure footballing quality, no one would like to have to face Thailand at their best – home or away. But if we’re talking about making a trip to a ground where the home fans could really make a massive difference, I think we’ve seen already in the AFC Cup this season that Indonesia’s Gelora Bung Karno would be quite the hostile atmosphere!

Which teams would you like to see matched up in the group stage?

Tupas: Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and the winner of the playoff between Brunei and Timor Leste. I prefer to get Thailand in the group stage to avoid them in the semi-finals, should the Philippines qualify. With this group, it may end up as a virtual knockout game between Malaysia and the Philippines. I like the Azkals’ chances in this match-up particularly if the duel is at home.

Tan: There’s bound to be some mouthwatering ties thrown up. Having said that, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore and Laos would be quite the Group of Death.