FFT's Five Finds: S.League becoming a one-and-a-half horse race

Malaysia's national team is travelling around the southern hemisphere, but the rest of Southeast Asia is getting on with their leagues and plenty more...

The S-League is a one-and-a-half horse race

It is official. The 2016 S.League champions are going to be either Tampines Rovers or, a little more likely, Albirex Niigata (S).

The White Swans ended the faint hopes of Home United with a 5-2 win at home, a tenth victory in succession that keeps them seven points clear.

It was impressive. Three goals to the good with 10 minutes left, United came back with two goals in quick succession but hopes of a dramatic comeback were dashed as Kento Nagasaki scored twice late on.

At the moment it is hard to see any other team taking the title. There is just one hope, or perhaps half a hope, that Tampines can make the race an exciting one.

For the neutrals then, it was encouraging that the Mighty Stags are just about keeping the leaders in their sights. It was thanks to a 3-2 win that Tampines managed on Friday at Balestier Khalsa as Fazrul Nawaz and Billy Mehmet both took their personal goal tallies this season to six.

Seven points is a big but not insurmountable deficit, especially with the two meeting on Friday.
If Tampines beat the leaders at home then the race is well and truly on, but an away win and it is hard to see anything other than an Albirex title.

Ong Kim Swee puts himself under pressure

Malaysia suffered an embarrassing 2-0 loss to Papua New Guinea. Photo: FAM

The problem with a tour around Oceania is that it is a no-win situation. Fans and media back home expect victories against teams like Papau New Guinea and New Caledonia.

So to lose 2-0 to PNG in the opening game is not what was wanted. Whatever the circumstances, it is seen as embarrassing.

It focuses attention on results, which is not what the tour is about. It may have been an experimental line-up but that soon becomes lost amid the recriminations.

The performance wasn't anything to write home about but, even if it was, it would have gone largely ignored.

It also puts pressure on the team and the coach for the other two games. For a tour which purpose was to help Ong build a team and create some chemistry, the coach now has to think about results too.

Another loss and the Malaysian media will officially enter crisis mode, which won't benefit anyone. The next game in this experimental tour has become a must-win.

Premier League of Thailand is officially a two-horse race

Who between Muangthong and Bangkok will clinch the title?

There is a gap of 10 points between second and third. This would not have been a surprise before the season started but most (or even all?) would have named Muangthong United and Buriram United as the two frontrunners.

Yet Buriram have dropped out and are languishing in fifth. It is now between Muangthong and Bangkok United, with both  in great form.

Since losing 3-2 at home to Bangkok in March, Muangthong have won all 11 league games. Bangkok have won 12 out of the last 13. No wonder then that the others can't keep pace.

Both picked up clinical 1-0 wins away from home at the weekend. Bangkok got past Suphanburi while the Kirins overcame Army United.

Such levels of consistency are truly impressive and mean that all are starting to look towards July when the two will meet again.