FFT’s Five Finds: The mystery of a Brazilian ‘Indonesian’
The mystery over 'Indonesian' striker Wanderley continues
Last Wednesday, Al Nasr of the United Arab Emirates won 3-0 at the home of Qatar's El Jaish in the first leg of the 2016 AFC Champions League quarter-final.
Two goals from Wanderley helped the Dubai team to within inches of the last four.
Originally Brazilian, the striker seems now to be Indonesian. There is some confusion as to why the 27-year-old, who has never played in the country and, as far as anyone knows, does not seem to have an Indonesian parent, is listed as an Indonesian.
His new nationality helps Al Nasr as he can occupy the team's 'Asian slot' and allows the club to field three non-Asian foreigners.
If he really is eligible for an Indonesian passport, then he may be able to play for the national team. This is, of course, why long-suffering fans of the Merah Putih are interested in a striker who has shown he can score against the best teams in Asia. There's surely more to come in this story.
Johor Darul Ta'zim are worthy champions
Premature? If it was any other team perhaps you would think twice but not JDT.
This is a team that has won the last two Malaysia Super League titles. This is a team that has not lost in the league all season and this is a team that is now seven points clear of Felda United at the top with three games remaining.
The chances of Felda winning all three game are debatable but whatever they are, they are much higher than the odds of the Southern Tigers failing to collect three points from the next 270 minutes of football. It is not going to happen.
The champions showed their champion mentality in the big game last week. JDT had two good goals not given at the home of Felda last week but still ran out 3-2 victors. The desire to win and keep winning is incredibly strong.
When the going gets tough, Tampines get going
Tampines Rovers don't mind the occasional tempestuous game as they demonstrated once again last week in the Singapore Cup semi-final.
The narrow 2-1 win from Sunday's first leg at home against Ceres La Salle from the Philippines always meant that the second leg three days later was going to be tough.
And that was especially the case as the Stags were missing captain Mustafic Fahrudin, Shakir Hamzah and Yasir Hanapi as well as long-term absentee striker Fazrul Nawaz.
They fought hard however, from the first, right until the last.
With ten minutes remaining, it was 2-1 to Ceres and 3-3 on aggregate and heading for extra time.
The eight yellow cards from the first leg were replicated in the second with Ceres picking up a red as Paul Mulders was sent off six minutes remaining.
It got worse for the Philippines as striker Patrick Reichelt was stretchered off in extra time with his team already having made three subs.
The Singaporeans took advantage of their two-man advantage with Afiq Yunos and then Saifullah Akbar scoring before the end. Tampines won 3-2 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate and in their first final since 2010.
The league, AFC Cup and Singapore Cup treble is still very much on.
Southeast Asia is waiting for Thailand
This is a big week for Thai, and by extension ASEAN football.
The country is the first representative from the region to reach the final round of World Cup qualification since 2002.
Thursday's game in Saudi Arabia is obviously going to be very tough indeed yet it is a perfect test.
If the War Elephants can take something from the Green Falcons then it not only keeps alive the slim hope that Thailand can somehow slip into third place in the group of six, but it also confirms that Southeast Asian football is worthy of respect and that the best in the region can compete with the powerhouses of the continent.
Whatever happens, Thailand deserve credit for coming this far but the journey is far from over. Southeast Asia should support their sole remaining representative.
Brunei going well but it is too little too late
A fine come-from-behind 2-1 win at Hougang United means that DPMM have taken 14 points from the last six games and the 2015 champions are looking good.
It was a tough game especially as Hougang, looking to move above the visitors in third, took the lead and were bossing the game until early in the second half when Steve Kean's men scored twice in as many minutes.
The Scottish boss is not satisfied with finishing third, he still believes that Tampines Rovers in second can be caught.
“We are not giving up on second [spot],” said Kean. “We can only hope for that and we’ve [still] got to play Tampines,” he said. “The target we set the players was to go out there and end the season unbeaten... We want to keep the winning run going.”
Brunei's run of good form, while welcome for fans, looks to be a case of too little, too late. DPMM are still eight points behind Tampines Rovers in second having played a game more.
The hope in Bandar Seri Begawan is that Tampines will become distracted should Albirex Niigata, four points clear at the top, continue winning to dash the title hopes of Rovers.
Should that happen, Tampines may well choose to focus on the AFC Cup, where they are now at the quarter-final stage, and the Singapore Cup, of which they are now in the final.
Straws are being clutched, as they have to be in such situations, but the chance of a top-two spot is slim indeed.