FFT’s Five Finds: Thai League title race tighter than ever

FourFourTwo looks back at the weekend just gone in Southeast Asian football and there was lots of talking points in Thailand...

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Chanathip's magic makes Thai football the winner in title blockbuster

The top two in the Premier League of Thailand met on Sunday and for once, the action matched the hype as Bangkok United and Muangthong United played out a 3-3 draw.

There were positives for both teams. Bangkok came back twice from a goal behind to earn a draw that keeps them three points behind the leaders. Muangthong recovered from last week's defeat at Ratchaburi to take a hard-fought point at the home of their closest rivals.

And then there was an outstanding goal from Chanathip Songkrasin, a solo effort to score Muangthong's opener that was worth the entrance money.

It may have ended in a draw but Thai football was the winner.

Group B of the Malaysia Cup is the group of desperation

Club football was back in Malaysia with the Malaysia Cup. Photo: Terengganu

After almost two months, club football is back as the Malaysia Cup starts on Tuesday.

The tournament offers some sense of salvation for teams that have been underperforming in the league.

Just take a look at Group B with three teams that expect success and are more desperate for it than usual.

Selangor accomplished 'Mission 33' just a few months ago. The Red Giants hovered around the edges of the title race without ever really threatening to get involved with Felda United and Johor Darul Ta'zim. It is still possible to do so but the Malaysia Cup offers a better chance of silverware.

Kelantan have also had a disappointing time this year with all the controversy about financial and sponsorship issues. Add the fact that the team is a good deal closer to the bottom than the top then a good run in the cup would really make the fans happy.

And then there's Kelantan's opening opponents Pahang. It is debatable as to whether the team needs the extra burden of a run in the cup when it is in the middle of a relegation battle but good results in one tournament can help confidence and form in another.

Kuala Lumpur are the second tier team grouped in with these three powers of Malaysian football.

Singapore take a leaf out of Italy's book with Daniel Bennett

Bennett returns to the national team at the age of 38. Photo: FFT / Weixiang Lim

New Lions coach V Sundramoorthy has not been in the job long but has done something that predecessor Bernd Stange chose not to in his three years in charge and selected Daniel Bennett. The English-born defender has been called for the upcoming tour of Japan and Cambodia.

Not all fans in the Lion City think that the return of the 38 year-old to the national team is a step in the right direction. It is understandable. The man who won 128 caps for Singapore is not exactly going to be a long-term fixture but there is nothing wrong with picking veterans who are playing well – as Italy showed at the Euros.

Age is not everything. Much was made of England's exciting young team going into the European Championships but a bit of experience can go a long way.

If the Geylang International man can bring some stability and leadership to the backline then it could be just the thing the team needs.

Bennett may not be one for the future but can play a part in the team's future. There is nothing wrong with opting for leadership and experience, a lesson that the Three Lions could  have done with learning a few weeks earlier.

Persija sinking in Indonesia

After a good start to the Indonesia Soccer Championship with eight points from the first four games, things have been going wrong for Persija. Four of the last five games have ended in defeat and the club has slipped to 12th place in the league.

It is not hard to see where the problem lies. Just one goal has been scored in the last six games. The defence was holding firm until two back-to-back 3-0 losses. Throw in some recent crowd trouble and these are worrying times for the club.

Bambang Pamungkas is the hero of the team but perhaps there is too much on the star who is now 36. His presence on the pitch gets the fans excited but scares opposition defenders less than it used to. It may be time to get a few younger players involved as even Bambang is going to struggle to play every game from now until the end of the season.

Suphanburi upset Indian football fans

Suphanburi has a new man in charge

Just days after parting ways with Ricardo Rodriguez as coach, Thai team Suphanburi have hired former coach Sergio Farias. There is one problem: the man who won the 2009 Asian Champions League with Pohang Steelers of South Korea signed a contract with North East United in India just in May.

At the time, Farias talked of making dreams come true and was involved in identifying transfer targets ahead of the new season in  India.

The Indian Super League team is understandably a little confused at what is going on but has cancelled the coach's contract saying that the Brazilian has breached their agreement.  The anger of team owner John Abraham, who has been left in the lurch, is understandable and it is likely that Suphanburi and Farias have not heard the last of this affair.

There are other risks for Suphanburi. Farias left at the end of his first spell wondering if the club's ambitions matched his own. It remains to be seen if anything has changed.