Malaysia’s 1996 Tiger Cup runners-up: Where are they now?
Khairul Azman Mohamed
Only two players, legendary names nevertheless, managed to score against Khairul during the tournament. Singapore’s Fandi Ahmad scored in the opening group match stalemate while Thailand’s Kiatisuk Senamuang scored one in the round-robin and again in the final.
The lanky pony-tailed former Pahang stalwart remained with his new team Sabah after the Tiger Cup, eventually retiring and taking up a coaching role with the Rhinos in 2005.
Khairul joined the coaching team at Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in 2013 and remains their goalkeeping coach despite several changes in the hotseat over the years.
The left-sided player moved to Sarawak the year before the Tiger Cup and fine performances with the Crocs, who were at the top of their game during that period, earned him a place in the national team.
Nazri was part of the Sarawak side that finished runners-up in the 1996 FA Cup and a year later, he helped the East Malaysians to the league title. Nazri started four matches in the Tiger Cup and made one appearance off the bench. He remained in the squad the following year and even represented Malaysia at the 1997 FIFA Futsal World Championships.
He is back in his hometown in Johor Bahru, where he started his footballing career, and is the JDT under-19 assistant coach.
The former Johor (now JDT II) defender is a classic example of how some just can’t stop playing football.
His days at the top, when he was a regular for the national team and Johor in the 1990s, are long gone, but Azmil is still actively playing football at the age of 43.
Azmil moved to Pahang and then Malacca before ending his professional career in the mid-2000s. He continued to play in the Johor league – including a newly set-up Bro FC in 2010.
Azmil is currently a member of the Classic United squad in the Ministry of Football Singapore Sunday League. He also often features in exhibition matches involving players from days gone by.
Zainal Abidin Hassan
Named the most valuable player of the tournament, Zainal was already 35 and at the tail-end of his career during the inaugural edition. Zainal had returned to the centre-back position after terrorising defences in a forward role in previous years.
The former Pahang and Selangor star went into coaching, earning his first gig at the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) as national under-17 coach before briefly becoming senior team assistant coach.
He returned to Pahang as coach in 2004 and won the FA Cup in 2006. He later served Pahang in various roles before returning as head coach in 2014, this time winning the FA Cup and Malaysia Cup. Zainal moved to Selangor for the 2016 season but was sacked in August due to poor results.
Zainal also owns a restaurant specialising in chicken rice in Shah Alam.