FFT’s Five Finds: Izwan’s loss, Hassan’s gain


In our finds across Asia, we found plenty of big winners — be it clubs or players — and here they are... 

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It was a good weekend for Hassan Sunny

Sometimes, nations can move up FIFA's rankings without playing --and there have been some teams that have made this a semi-official policy.

On a smaller scale, something similar has happened to Hassan Sunny this weekend.

The goalkeeper has not been playing in recent weeks due to the Thai season shutdown but he must be feeling satisfied at the moment.

The Army United shot stopper has surely seen his chances of starting at the AFF Suzuki Cup receive a boost.

Hassan's rival for the gloves when the action starts in November is, of course, Izwan Mahbud. The Tampines Rovers goalkeeper has shown his worth for the Stags and the Lions plenty of times but made a major error in the Singapore Cup final on Saturday.

A first half back-pass from Mustafic Fahrudin looked innocuous but the goalkeeper let it run across him only for Atsushi Kawata to nip in and put Albirex Niigata ahead. Rovers went on to lose 2-0.

His form has not been quite as good in 2016 as last year and his mistake made it more likely that Hassan will be between the sticks in the Philippines. Sometimes you can move ahead by doing nothing.

Albirex Niigata are unbelievable

Photo: S.League

If you had said at the start of the season that one team would win all four trophies, the first reaction would have been one of disbelief. The second would probably have been that if it had to be one, then it would have to be big-spending Tampines Rovers.

It wasn't and instead of the Stags, it was the White Swans that lifted four separate pieces of silverware in Singapore this season.

It is a fantastic achievement that deserves plenty of praise, especially for a team that had never won the title previously. In fact, Albirex have won more trophies this year than in their entire 13-season history.

Ahead of the Singapore Cup final against Tampines on Saturday, there were concerns that after winning the league with a little to spare, the long-time leaders may struggle to reach top gear.

Perhaps the switch to 4-3-3 from the usual 3-4-3 kept the players concentrated and on their toes. But whatever happened, it worked.

This season will go down in history. The only downside for Albirex is how they go about following that.

For now though, fans should savour an unlikely quadruple and the league, the League Cup, the Community Shield and now the Singapore Cup.

Sorry Selangor but Kedah Cup win good for Malaysia

Photo: Kedah

These are uncertain times in Malaysian football but the Malaysia Cup final is a welcome reminder that there is still plenty to celebrate.

Eighty thousand packed Shah Alam Stadium — half red, half yellow — to watch an intriguing match between Kedah and Selangor, a replay of the 2015 final.

This time though, the outcome was different. Selangor fans were not celebrating a 34th trophy but it was Kedah followers who enjoyed the penalty shootout win after the game had ended 1-1.

This has been a great season for the newly-promoted Kedah. A third-place finish and some silverware shows that the Northerners are heading in the right direction under Tan Cheng Hoe, showing some bigger boys of Malaysian football –and this includes Selangor –what some stability and forward thinking can achieve.

The hope is that Kedah can build on this to become genuine title challengers in 2017. Perhaps Selangor can do something similar.

There's more drama in Malaysia post-season than the rest of the time

Photo: PDRM

Celebrations had barely died down in Penang after their last-minute escape from relegation when worrying reports started to arrive on the island.

These claimed that PDRM, who finished one place below could be handed three points by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).

The reason was that Johor Darul Ta'zim had fielded Juan Martin Lucero in their 4-0 win over the Cops in August when, it is claimed, he should have been suspended.

The rules state that any protestations must take place within 72 hours of the game so Penang say they are not worried.

Yet, FAM have set a precedent in overturning Pahang's loss to Kedah after a similar incident.

Those three points, awarded weeks after the game, saved Pahang from relegation and sent PDRM down. Or so we thought.

FourFourTwo reported that the 72-hour limit could be superseded by a two-year disciplinary rule.

It sounds ludicrous. Whatever, FAM need to sort this mess out.

These are challenging times for Thai coach Zico

Photo: Thai FA

Thailand is still mourning the death of its beloved King Bhumibol. That has had obvious consequences for the country's football scene. It ended the football season early.

That has left the national team's players kicking their heels for a month ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup. This gives time for a little rest and to iron out a few niggles from tired bodies but too much downtime can be a problem.

Coach Kiatisuk Senamuang has been able to spend time training with his players at least and has established a strict training and lifestyle regime.

“There are strict rules for the national players: no smoking, no drinking, no escaping and no gambling,"said the coach.

“There is no room for leniency or negotiation in this matter. Team discipline is very important.”

By the time the Elephants arrive in Manila, they should be straining at the leash.

Main Photo: FAS