FFT’s Five Finds: Muangthong suddenly looking nervous

FourFourTwo looks back at the weekend just gone in Southeast Asian football and the title race in Thailand may yet have a twist, while Malaysia national team and its football association are in turmoil... 

Muangthong United are looking nervous

"I think we need to improve and on an urgent basis,” said Muangthong United coach Totchtawan Sripan on Saturday after a disappointing draw at home to Navy left the leaders just a point clear of Bangkok United.

The Kirins had been looking unstoppable but now have two points from the last three games. Performances, as well as confidence, have dipped.

The next few days will show whether this is just a blip that every champion goes through or something more serious.

Next weekend is a massive game with defending title-holders Buriram United. The Thunder Castles are improving under new coach Afshin Ghotbi and have won their last three to climb into fourth. Defeating Muangthong would not only be hugely satisfying, there is an outside chance that it could put Buriram back in the title race.

As the coach said, Muangthong need to show the resilience that all champions need –and fast.

Malaysia football continues to shoot itself in the foot

It is sad that just as the club season starts again in Malaysia, attention is focused on the goings-on between the national team and champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT). No less than four JDT players have announced their retirement from representing their country.

There are many things in football that get labelled 'crisis' as soon as possible but this has the makings of something very serious.

Team skipper Safiq Rahim (who scored twice in the weekend's 5-0 win over Kedah), Aldil Zafuan Radzk, S. Kunanlan and Amirul Hadi have added massively to the already considerable issues coach Ong Kim Swee faces.

With JDT clearly the best team in the country and provider of a considerable percentage of any national team squad then the move obviously weakens the team ranked 173rd in the world.

It's time for some leadership from both parties: JDT and FAM.

The situation was not exactly healthy anyway but if there is major infighting then the future is looking bleaker than the recent past.

Singapore's League Cup prestige takes a blow

The League Cup seems to have lost its lustre. Photo: Weixiang Lim / FFT

The national team going on tour just as Singapore's League Cup starts confirms that the competition is very much the third tournament in the Lion City. If it really was a crucial part of the calender than clubs would not be without their best players.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about it is that it allows a few young players to get the chance to show what they can do.

And so far, there has been plenty of entertainment with 14 goals in the opening two games in Group A.

The 6-4 win of Tampines Rovers over Hougang United was not quite as thrilling as the scoreline suggests from a neutral point of view as the Mighty Stags had a 6-2 lead until the last few minutes when the visitors pulled a couple back.

Yet it is going to be hard to get the general public so excited when the big names are in action elsewhere.

Indonesia has a genuine football hero

It is no secret that the past few years have not been happy ones for football in Indonesia. FIFA bans, violence and corruption have made more headlines than anything that has happened on the pitch.

The Homeless World Cup, the 2016 edition just finished in Scotland, may not make major news around the world but it has given writers in Indonesia a pleasant job.

This version of the Merah Putih did the country proud, reaching the last eight. Not only that but the team's goalkeeper Eman Sulaiman was one of the heroes of the tournament and not just because of a string of impressive displays.

Eman was born with just one leg but still managed to represent his country despite the disability. So impressive has he been that he was awarded a 'Hary Milas whistle' by organisers to recognise his sheer determination and fearlessness.

There are plenty of people in Indonesian football who could learn a few lessons from that.

Malaysia just can’t get enough of resting

Mike Mulvey has been "rested"

Upon seeing the 6-1 home defeat that Terengganu suffered at the hands of Kelantan on Friday, it was obvious that coach Mike Mulvey was going to be in a difficult position.

This season has been a big disappointment for the Turtles after the fantastic finish in 2015. Mulvey, who led Brisbane Roar to the 2014 A-League title, came in early in the campaign when it was clear that things were not right at the club.

Results have not improved as much as the fans had hoped and the English-born boss was always going to be under pressure with a poor start to the second half of the season..

Yet that does not mean it is time for Mulvey to become the sixth coach this season to be 'rested'. If clubs want to change a coach, they should be honest and respectful about it. Resting is neither.