Hassan ready for Thai challenge with Army United

Singapore international Hassan Sunny is determined to rise to the challenge of playing overseas after completing his move to Thailand’s Army United.

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Following a three-day trial earlier this month which has ultimately proved to be successful, Hassan has put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the Thai Premier League outfit and arrived in Bangkok on Sunday to begin his journey as a foreign player plying his trade in what many currently regard as the best league in Southeast Asia.

The 30-year-old already made history last year when he became the first goalkeeper to win the S.League’s Player of the Year award, after his consistent displays helped former side Warriors FC claim their first league crown since 2009.

Following that success, he was Singapore’s first-choice custodian in their ill-fated 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup title defence, where they were eliminated in the group stages, and was preparing for the upcoming S.League campaign with new side Tampines Rovers.

However, the Stags maintained they would not stand in the player’s way should an offer from overseas come his way, and with his move to Army now completed, Hassan is now ready to make the most of what he admits is a ‘dream’ move.

“I think most people know that it’s very difficult – or should I say almost impossible – for goalkeepers to get out there and play outside Singapore,” he told Football SEA.

“Even more so when you consider it’s a league that has a limit on foreign players.

“I can only say a dream has been realised for me to get the chance to play overseas.”

Considering he is arguably one of the region’s top two goalkeepers, along with Muangthong United star Kawin Thamsatchanan, the fact that foreign teams have shown interest in him should come as no surprise.

Nonetheless, he admits there will always be reservations over signing a foreign goalkeeper, but is relishing the chance to prove any doubters wrong.

“I guess there will always be people who believe a foreign player spot would be wasted on a goalkeeper,” Hassan added.

“Initially, even the club were uncertain if they needed a foreign goalkeeper, but everything changed at the end of the day and they decided to sign me.

“What I need to now do is to prove that goalkeepers are as important to the team as outfield players.”

In recent times, several of Singapore’s top players have been courted by foreign sides with Hariss Harun, Shahril Ishak and Baihakki Khaizan all playing for Johor Darul Ta’zim I and II in Malaysia.

Still, Hassan can lay claim to being the first local-born Singaporean to earn a move to Thailand, although English-born John Wilkinson did play for Police United in 2011.

And the former Geylang International and Courts Young Lions man is hoping he can inspire the next generation of footballers in the country – both outfielders and goalkeepers – to dream big.

“Hopefully the young ones can learn from this,” he said. “Especially our young goalkeepers.

“It’s all about changing the mind-set and believing that nothing is impossible.

“All you need to do is have a dream or set a target, and then work in that direction.

“Work hard – work harder than anyone else.”

Hassan is certainly no stranger to hard work given he is renowned for his professionalism and discipline on the training track, and he showed tremendous resilience to bounce back from a wretched run with injuries in 2011 and 2012.

Another challenge now awaits him as he embarks on an adventure in a new country with a different lifestyle and culture to Singapore.

But displaying his trademark assuredness, Hassan insists it is just something he will have to deal with as a foreign player in Thailand.

“To be honest, I believe one has to get out of their comfort zone in order to be successful,” he revealed.

“Sometimes you have to struggle and overcome it to achieve something – nothing comes easy.

“Sure, as a foreign player arriving in Thailand I will need to adapt to their culture and other aspects and it will probably take a while, but I don’t see it being a problem.”

Hassan will be looking to make his Army debut on February 14 when his side open their 2015 Premier League campaign against newly-promoted Siam Navy.

Photo credit: BP Chua (Axrosstheline)

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Buriram edge Bangkok Glass to win Kor Royal Cup

Buriram United won the Kor Royal Cup for the third season running after beating Bangkok Glass 1-0 at the Suphachalasai Stadium on Saturday evening.

Following a goalless first half, the Thunder Castle broke the deadlock in the 58th minute when Diogo nipped in ahead of Narit Taweekul to deftly lift the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper, after Gilberto Macena had done well to break free down the left and fire a cross to the near post.

Having claimed the lead, Alexandre Gama’s charges then managed to hold out for the remainder of the match to win the annual clash between the reigning champions of the Thai Premier League and FA Cup.

Despite the start of the 2015 league campaign being a few weeks away, Buriram – who have been crowned champions three times in the past four years – are already shaping up as genuine contenders once again.

Although they boast seasoned campaigners like Suchao Nutnum, Theerathon Bunmathan and Anawin Jujeen in their side, they have spared no expense in adding reinforcements over the off-season and secured the services of right-back Narubodin Weerawatnodom and winger Prakit Deeprom from BEC Tero Sasana and TOT respectively; both of whom played key roles in Thailand’s 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup triumph last month.

In addition, a host of new foreigners have arrived at the New I-Mobile Stadium including Diogo and Macena, fellow Brazilian Rafael Coelho, former Ulsan Hyundai star Go Seul-ki and New Zealand international Kayne Vincent, who netted 12 league goals for Songkhla United last term.

Meanwhile, Bangkok Glass have largely decided to keep their faith in the squad that landed them their first major piece of silverware in a decade by winning last season’s FA Cup.

The foreign trio of Japanese striker Goshi Okubo, Namibia international Lazarus Kaimbi and Macedonian playmaker Darko Tasevski has been retained, and they will be joined this season by Australian centre-back Matt Smith, who made over 100 appearances for A-League outfit Brisbane Roar, and Brazilian striker Leandro Oliveira from Port.

Other players that will be expected to play key roles for the Glass Rabbits in 2015 include talismanic captain Chatree Chimtale, midfielder Suphasek Kaikaew and defenders Pravinwat Boonyong and Wasan Homsaen.

Philippines striker Patino leaves Buriram for China

Philippines international Javier Patino will be plying his trade in the Chinese Super League this season after joining Henan Jianye from Buriram United.

The Spanish-born striker was just one of three foreign signings confirmed by Henan on Wednesday, along with Danish defender Eddi Gomes and Poland forward Mateusz Zachara from Esbjerg and Gornik Zabrze respectively.

After playing Alcobendas, SS Reyes, Cordoba and Xerez, Patino left his homeland in 2013 when he signed for Buriram and was an instant hit in Thailand, netting 16 goals in all competition as his side went on to claim the domestic treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

Last season, the 26-year-old was again in scintillating form and finished as his side’s top scorer with 21 goals in the league, as they retained the league crown after seeing off the challenge of second-placed Chonburi on the final day of the season.

However, his future at the New I-Mobile Stadium looked uncertain after the Thunder Castle brought in several attacking reinforcements in the off-season, including Brazilian forwards Rafael Coelho and Diogo, as well as New Zealand international Kayne Vincent.

And it has now been confirmed that Patino will no longer be gracing the Thai Premier League after his move to Chinese Super League outfit Henan was finalised.

Despite being born in Spain, Patino represents Philippines after qualifying the represent them through his mother.

He garnered plenty of attention when he received his Filipino citizenship and made an instant impact as he scored twice on debut in an 8-0 win over Cambodia in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.

Nonetheless, club commitments and the fact that several Southeast Asian tournaments are often played on non-FIFA international dates have restricted Patino’s involvement with the Azkals thus far.

Leaders Binh Duong continue winning start to season

Becamex Binh Duong remain the only team unbeaten in the 2015 V.League 1 season after notching a fourth straight win by beating Song Lam Nghe An 1-0 on Wednesday.

The reigning champions initially struggled to find a way past the stubborn hosts at the Vinh Stadium and it did look like they would be denied maximum points for the first time in the new campaign.

But in the 90th minute, prolific Senegalese striker Abass Cheikh Dieng found the back of the net for the fourth successive game to win it for Binh Duong.

The result allowed them to stay two points clear of second-placed Hai Phong, who got back to winning ways with a 1-0 triumph over Hoang Anh Gia Lai at the Lach Tray Stadium.

It was Errol Stevens who found the breakthrough for Hai Phong when he scored in the 57th minute, and any hopes HAGL had of forcing the draw were effectively ended eight minutes from time when they had Dang Khanh Lam sent off for a second bookable offence.

Despite remaining unbeaten, Ha Noi T&T continued their disappointing form as they were held for the third time in four outings following a 1-1 draw against SHB Da Nang at the Chi Lang Stadium.

Things could have been worse for them as it had been Da Nang who edged ahead courtesy of Ngo Quang Huy’s 15th-minute opener, although Nguyen Van Quyet did pop up with the equaliser five minutes after the hour mark to earn Ha Noi a share of the spoils.

Meanwhile, Than Quang Ninh remain in third spot after fighting back to beat newly-promoted Dong Thap 3-1 at the Cua Ong Stadium.

Felix Ajala had fired Dong Thap in front after just seven minutes, only for Dinh Hoang Max to grab an equaliser two minutes before halftime.

The hosts then edged ahead through a Nguyen Quang Hai strike in the 62nd minute, before Nguyen Hai Huy added another eight minutes later to wrap up the three points for his side.

Over at the Tam Ky Stadium, there was late drama as QNK Quang Nam came from behind twice to force a 2-2 draw against Dong Tam Long An.

It took until the 83rd minute before the deadlock was finally broken when Nguyen Tai Loc netted the opener, but Patiyo Tambwe fired Quang Nam level just three minutes later.

Long An looked to have done enough for the win when they scored again through Souleymane Diabate in the 90th minute, only for the hosts to once again respond as Phan Thanh Hung grabbed an equaliser in the third minute of injury-time to earn his side a valuable point.

Finally, Ngo Duc Thang scored the only goal of the game in the 73rd minute as Dong Nai beat XSKT Can Tho 1-0 at the Bien Hoa Stadium, while Thanh Hoa and Sanna Khanh Hoa played out a 1-1 draw.

In a keenly-contested clash at the Thanh Hoa Stadium, Uche Iheruome fired Khanh Hoa ahead in the 72nd minute but the hosts went on to force the draw six minutes from time through a strike from Danny van Bakel.

Wednesday’s V.League 1 Results

Than Quang Ninh 3-1 Dong Thap

Thanh Hoa 1-1 Sanna Khanh Hoa

QNK Quang Nam 2-2 Dong Tam Long An

SHB Da Nang 1-1 Ha Noi T&T

Song Lam Nghe An 0-1 Becamex Binh Duong

Dong Nai 1-0 XSKT Can Tho

Hai Phong 1-0 Hoang Anh Gia Lai

Yangon edge Hanthawardy; first win for Yadanarbon

Yangon United had to work hard to maintain their perfect start to the 2015 Myanmar National League season after toiling to a 1-0 win over Hanthawardy United on Saturday.

Having opened their campaign last weekend with a convincing 6-0 triumph over Rakhine United, many expected the Lions to once again run riot against another newly-promoted side.

However, they were given a much sterner test by Hanthwardy although ultimately doing enough to claim maximum points; Brazilian star Cezar netting what proved to be the winner in the 33rd minute when he was left unmarked at the back post to convert Zarni Htet’s right-wing cross.

Like Yangon, Ayeyawady United also made it successive wins in their opening two matches after coming from behind to defeat Zwekapin United 3-1.

Although Dragan Cicovic had given the hosts the lead after just five minutes, Ayeyawady equalised on the hour mark through an effort from Myanmar international Min Min Thu.

The visitors then edged ahead in the 78th minute when Moe Win found the back of the net, and the win was secured four minutes from time after Edison Fonseca scored his first goal for the club since joining in the off-season.

Saturday’s other match saw Kanbawza record a 2-0 triumph over Zeyar Shwe Myay with ex-Hull striker Caleb Folan opening the scoring in the 63rd minute, before adding another in injury-time to put the result beyond doubt.

On Sunday, defending champions Yadanarbon got their campaign up and running by cruising to a 3-0 win over Nay Pyi Taw, after being held to a draw in last week’s season opener.

Following a goalless first half, Khin Maung Tint’s charges went in front a minute after halftime when Boakay Eddie Foday notched his second goal in as many games.

Nonetheless, the game was always in the balance as Nay Pyi Taw threatened to mount a fightback, until goals in the final five minutes through Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit and Yan Paing added gloss to the win for Yadanarbon.

Finally, Idoko Mathew netted in the second minute of injury-time to hand Chin United a 1-0 victory against Manaw Myay, while Magway beat Rakhine United 1-0 courtesy of Ko Ko Naing’s 68th-minute winner.

Saturday’s Myanmar National League Results

Zwekapin United 1-3 Ayeyawady United

Yangon United 1-0 Hanthawardy United

Zeyar Shwe Myay 0-2 Kanbawza

Sunday’s Myanmar National League Results

Nay Pyi Taw 0-3 Yadanarbon

Chin United 1-0 Manaw Myay

Rakhine United 0-1 Magway

Three in a row for Binh Duong; Ha Noi suffer late collapse

Becamex Binh Duong are the only remaining team with a perfect record in the 2015 V.League 1 season after beating SHB Da Nang 3-2 at the Go Dau Stadium on Saturday.

The defending champions edged ahead through Abass Chiekh Dieng’s seventh-minute opener, before doubling their lead in the 22nd minute when Nguyen Trong Hoang found the back of the net.

Five minutes later, the contest looked to be over when Dieng grabbed his second of the evening but Melquiades Gomez pulled one back with ten minutes remaining to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.

Into injury-time, the deficit was further reduced as Ho Ngoc Thang opened his account for the season but it proved to be a mere consolation, as Binh Duong held out for the win.

It should have been the same for Ha Noi T&T at the Hang Day Stadium but a stunning late collapse saw them held to a 4-4 draw by QNK Quang Nam.

Although a six-minute brace from Hoang Vu Samson had given the hosts a comfortable lead at the break, Henry Kisekka struck for Quang Nam four minutes before the hour mark to keep the tie evenly poised.

Still, Ha Noi reclaimed their two-goal cushion six minutes later through a Gonzalo Marronkle effort, and the three points looked to be in the bag when Samson completed his hat-trick in the 71st minute.

But with ten minutes remaining, Patiyo Tambwe scored to make it 4-2 and added another in the 83rd minute to set up a tense finale, before Vu Anh Tuan found the back of the net with three minutes remaining to complete a stunning comeback by the visitors.

Meanwhile, Hai Phong – the only other team that managed to claim victories in their opening two games – had their perfect record ended as they played out a 0-0 draw against newly-promoted Sanna Khanh Hoa at the Nha Trang Stadium.

For the second time in three weeks, Thanh Hoa came from behind to emerge triumphant after seeing off Hoang Anh Gia Lai with a 2-1 win at the Pleiku Stadium.

Initially trailing after Le Hoang Thien put HAGL ahead in the 33rd minute, the visitors drew level ten minutes into the second half through a Huynh Van Thanh strike.

And seven minutes after the hour mark, Hoang Dinh Tung scored to win it for Thanh Hoa – mirroring their result on the opening day of the season when they fought back to down Da Nang by the same scoreline.

Over at the Can Tho Stadium, Than Quang Ninh climbed up to third place as they saw off stubborn resistance by XSKT Can Tho to record a 3-2 victory.

Having broken the deadlock after 19 minutes courtesy of a Nguyen Quang Hai strike, Quang Ninh saw their lead chalked off on the stroke of halftime when Adrian Valentic scored an equaliser.

The visitors went ahead once more five minutes after the interval when Quang Hai found the back of the net once more, but again Can Tho were able to pull level – this time through a Le Van Thang goal.

Nonetheless, Quang Ninh refused to be deterred and went on to claim the victory five minutes after the hour mark when Dinh Hoang Max struck what proved to be the winner.

Elsewhere, Ho Phuc Tinh grabbed an 86th-minute equaliser at the Long An Stadium to earn Song Lam Nghe An a 1-1 draw against Dong Tam Long An, who were initially headed for victory thanks to Souleymane Diabate’s opener eight minutes before halftime.

Finally, Dong Nai’s awful start to 2015 continued as they were beaten 4-1 by new boys Dong Thap at the Cao Lanh Stadium.

For the third game in a row, Samson Kpenosen was on target to hand the hosts a 25th-minute lead, which was followed by Felix Ajala converting a penalty three minutes after halftime to make it 2-0.

Christian Amougou looked to have gotten Dong Nai back into the contest when he pulled one back in the 56th minute but Ajala struck again just two minutes later, before a Nguyen Thanh Trung own-goal capped off a miserable display for the visitors and wrapped up the win for Dong Thap.

Saturday’s V.League 1 Results

Dong Thap 4-1 Dong Nai

XSKT Can Tho 2-3 Than Quang Ninh

Dong Tam Long An 1-1 Song Lam Nghe An

Becamex Binh Duong 3-2 SHB Da Nang

Ha Noi T&T 4-4 QNK Quang Nam

Sanna Khanh Hoa 0-0 Hai Phong

Hoang Anh Gia Lai 1-2 Thanh Hoa

Binh Duong, Hai Phong maintain perfect starts to 2015

Reigning champions Becamex Binh Duong made it two wins from two in the 2015 V.League 1 season after beating QNK Quang Nam 4-2 on Saturday.

Having opened the campaign with a resounding 6-1 win over Dong Thap last weekend, Binh Duong continued their good form at the Tam Ky Stadium by taking a third-minute lead through a Nguyen Tang Tuan strike, before Abass Cheikh Dieng doubled their tally on the half-hour mark.

Just four minutes later, Trinh Quang Vinh added a third for the visitors and the result looked all but over in the 51st minute; Tang Tuan netting again for his fourth goal in two outings.

To their credit, Quang Nam refused to give in and Dinh Thanh Trung pulled one back for them ten minutes later before a Patiyo Tambwe effort further reduced the deficit with 15 minutes remaining, although their opponents were never in any real danger of letting the three points slip from their grasp.

Binh Duong’s perfect start was matched by Hai Phong on Sunday as they recorded a 2-0 victory over Thanh Hoa at the Lach Tray Stadium.

Hai Phong were leading from the 15th minute when Errol Stevens opened the scoring, before Andre Fagan struck in the 72nd minute to seal a second consecutive win for his side.

In Saturday’s other action, Hoang Vu Samson scored the only goal of the game with nine minutes remaining to hand Ha Noi T&T a hard-fought 1-0 win over Than Quang Ninh at the Cua Ong Stadium,  while Dong Thap and XSKT Can Tho played out a 1-1 draw a battle between two newly-promoted sides.

Following a goalless first half at the Cao Lanh Stadium, Le Van Thang fired the hosts ahead nine minutes after the hour mark, only for Samson Kpenosen to equalise in the 75th minute and earn Dong Thap a share of the spoils.

On Sunday, Dong Tam Long An climbed up to third spot as they maintained their unbeaten start to 2015 by defeating Hoang Anh Gia Lai 2-1 at the Long An Stadium.

After Tran Chi Cong had broken the deadlock in the 22nd minute, Long An then looked to be cruising to maximum points when Nguyen Thanh Hai made it 2-0 with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Nonetheless, Darko Lukanovic set up a nervy finish by pulling one back for HAGL five minutes later, although it ultimately proved to be a mere consolation.

Over at the Chi Lang Stadium, an Aboubakar Mahadi brace helped Song Lam Nghe An come from behind to claim a 2-1 triumph over SHB Da Nang, who were initially on course to claim their first win of the season courtesy of Anto Pejic’s second-minute opener.

Finally, new boys Sanna Khanh Hoa got their campaign up and running after leaving it late to defeat Dong Nai 2-1 at the Nha Trang Stadium.

Although Tran Dinh Kha had put the hosts ahead on the stroke of halftime, it looked as though a draw was on the cards when Nguyen Ngoc Anh equalised for Dong Nai in the 76th minute.

But with two minutes left on the clock, Tran Minh Loi found the back of the net to hand Khanh Hoa an impressive victory that lifts them up to seventh on the table.

Saturday’s V.League 1 Results

Dong Thap 1-1 XSKT Can Tho

Than Quang Ninh 0-1 Ha Noi T&T

QNK Quang Nam 2-4 Becamex Binh Duong

Sunday’s V.League 1 Results

Dong Tam Long An 2-1 Hoang Anh Gia Lai

SHB Da Nang 1-2 Song Lam Nghe An

Hai Phong 2-0 Thanh Hoa

Sanna Khanh Hoa 2-1 Dong Nai