FourFourTwo's Five Finds: Sundram, fear the worst?
Singapore have their work cut out at the AFF Suzuki Cup
Spare a thought for the Lions. The team went all the way to Manama to lose 3-1 to Bahrain in a hard-fought friendly in which all the conceded goals were down to penalties. Still, it was a good test and a decent performance.
Yet there are some worrying signs for the new coach when it comes to his first challenge: the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup in November. Being in Group A, with co-hosts the Philippines, defending champions Thailand and Indonesia means that Singapore will do well to finish in the top two.
Thailand are Thailand, even if the War Elephants, busy with the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup, do not send their biggest stars. The Philippines are probably the region's second strongest team at the moment especially when you throw in home advantage and while Indonesia have a number of issues, there will no team as hungry for success at the men in red and white.
Singapore have had plenty of success in the regional competition but on present form and condition, the Lions are going to have to work very hard indeed.
JDT can be unbeatable in Asia too
It must have been a weekend of celebration down in Johor as the city's football team lifted the Malaysia Super League (MSL) trophy for a third straight year on Friday.
Johor Darul Ta'zim's triumph may have been a growing inevitability for the past few months but the success was no less sweet because of that.
This is bad news for the rest of Asia – well, at least South China in Hong Kong – and the other six teams preparing for the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup.
JDT are now free to give their all as they seek to defend the continental title that they won last year. So far this year, the Southern Tigers have been as dominant in the AFC Cup as in the MSL and have yet to lose a game in either competition.
It may just be coming together. Mario Gomez's men have had three great seasons but this could be the best yet. Winning the AFC Cup in style will merely confirm that there is something special about this team.
Kawin saves the day for Muangthong
Thailand's Kawin Thamsatchanan has long been regarded by many as the best goalkeeper in Southeast Asia and he has shown why on multiple occasions over the last few days. In Tuesday's 2018 World Cup qualifier, he single-handedly kept Japan at bay for most of the match, helping to keep the dominant visitors down to just two goals.
On Sunday, Muangthong United were leading 1-0 at Sukhothai and heading for another vital win in their quest for the Thai Premier League title. Then the hosts were awarded a penalty midway through the second half but Kawin was up to the challenge to make the save.
It also saved the Kirins' three-point lead over rivals Bangkok United who won 4-2 at Sisaket.
These are exciting times for Philippines football
One of the region's best national teams faced a tough trip to Kyrgyzstan last week, to take on a team ranked 105 in the world. At home, it would be a tricky test but on the road, and there were three flights involved, it was the kind of challenge that most Southeast Asian teams do not take.
To make it that little bit harder there were some big absentees for coach Tom Dooley to contend with. Stephan Schrock, Simone Rota, Javier Patino and Patrick Reichelt were all out.
Yet the Azkals won 2-1. Their goals came from Kevin Ingreso and Misagh Bahadoran on either side of half-time and while Vitali Lux reduced the arrears on the hour, the Philippines hung on, helped by some excellent goalkeeping by Neil Etheridge, for an excellent and morale-boosting win.
It bodes well for November as the AFF Suzui Cup co-hosts take on Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. On this form, few would bet against the team getting into the last four on home soil.
Southeast Asian football needs Indonesia
It may have been as welcome in Malaysia as the latest wave of haze from their neighbours, but Indonesia's 3-0 win over the Harimau Malaya showed the region what it has been missing. The Merah Putih are back and while, sadly, defeating the Tigers these days is hardly a sign of impending regional domination, the passion and delight on display in Solo for all to see almost brought a tear to the eye.
It was always likely in the country's first game back on the international stage since FIFA lifted its year-long suspension in May.
We may get more of an idea of what Alfred Riedl's men can do when they head to Myanmar later this month. The White Angels, co-hosts of the AFF Suzuki Cup, will provide a tougher test in Yangon than Malaysia did in Solo.