FFT’s Kenneth Tan picks out the best performers in the recently-concluded 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games football tournament…
Goalkeeper: Kyaw Zin Phyo (Myanmar)
One of the key reasons for Myanmar’s dream run to the final was Zin Phyo’s inspired form in between the sticks. Not the tallest of keepers at 1.77m, he made up for it with good command of his area and lightning reflexes, ending the group stages having conceded just four times.
It was in the knockout stages against Vietnam and Thailand that the 21-year-old truly showcased his excellence though, making perfect stops over the course of the combined 180 minutes. It was perhaps a pity that he was unable to push his side over the final hurdle, though he was not at fault for any of the three goals Thailand netted in the final.
He narrowly edges out Thailand’s Chanin Sae-Eae for this slot.
Right-back: Narubadin Weerawatnodom (Thailand)
It is hard to believe that Narubadin is just 20 years of age. Throughout the tournament, the Thai right-back displayed a sense of maturity that belied his tender years. He got forward to contribute in attack with a number of excellent crosses while not shirking his defensive responsibilities.
The Buriram United defender capped off his tireless performances down the right by netting two goals – one of them coming in the crucial semi-final against Indonesia.
Centre-back: Artit Daosawang (Thailand)
Strong in the air, uncompromising on the tackle and able to play the ball out of defence – Artit seems to possess every attribute that is required to be a top-class centre-back.
The 22-year-old, who plays for Muangthong United in the Thai Premier League, was an ever-present figure in the watertight Thai backline that conceded just once across all seven matches.
Centre-back: Tanaboon Kesarat (Thailand)
Lining up alongside Artit is his capable defensive partner, Tanaboon. The unflashy 21-year-old kept things simple at the back and impressed with his organisation of the backline as the tournament went on.
Earning the nod over Adisorn Promrak to start in the final against Myanmar, he duly repaid coach Choketawee Promrut’s faith with another commanding display – producing a number of key interceptions in the first half, before setting his side on the way to another Gold medal with a swing of his right boot.
Left-back: Si Thu Aung (Myanmar)
Joint-top scorer and another player who impressed for finalists Myanmar was Thu Aung, who appeared to be a winger at times with his adventurous bursts forward.
The 18-year-old proved to be a revelation down the left with his acceleration, trickery and uncanny eye for goal. He eventually landed five goals which saw him finish up there in the scoring charts alongside Thailand’s Chananan Pombubpha and Vietnam’s Vo Huy Toan.
What’s frightening about this prospect is that he will still be eligible for the next two SEA Games, and will similarly be looking to torment opposition defenders.