SINGAPORE - LIONSXII goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud is set to receive the biggest birthday present of his life.
Turning 23 on Sunday, the Singapore No. 1 will collect almost $17,000 in prize money, after the LionsXII lifted the 2013 Malaysian Super League (MSL) title.
Almost half the squad are set to collect a five-figure windfall each, after the Singapore team received RM750,000 ($300,000) in prize money for being MSL champions.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) confirmed with The New Paper that the entire sum will be split among the players.
An FAS spokesman said: "It was communicated to the team before the start of the season that the entire prize money earned will be distributed among the players."
LionsXII coach V Sundramoorthy and his assistant, K Balagumaran, along with the other members of the backroom staff, will receive a separate year-end bonus based on their respective key performance indicators, which includes a good finish in the MSL.
According to sources, players are rewarded according to a points system based on the number of appearances, and the FAS is in the process of allocating the prize money accordingly.
One point is awarded to a team member for every game played, and half a point for every appearance off the bench.
There is also a base amount, understood to be around RM5,000, for each player, so even the likes of Neezam Abdul Aziz, the third-choice goalkeeper who has not tasted any action, will receive a reward. For those who left the team or signed on mid-season, the base amount is halved.
It is understood that the prize money will not be CPF-deductible.
Based on the criteria, Izwan will receive the biggest sum as he has featured in 21 of the 22 MSL games. He was on the bench against Kelantan last Saturday.
The LionsXII boasted the league's meanest defence this season, and the 22-year-old's stellar performances between the posts was a critical factor, with the team conceding just 15 goals, with nine clean sheets.
He told TNP: "Of course it's a nice birthday present, and this time I will have to buy my family dinner instead of the other way around.
"I will save the rest of the money."
Last season, the LionsXII claimed $180,000 after finishing second in the MSL, and former midfield star Shahdan Sulaiman, now with Tampines Rovers, was the richest recipient after pocketing around $10,000.
Also among the top earners this season are two other key players who clocked 20 games or more.
Inspirational skipper Shahril Ishak played 21 games and the 29-year-old's keen eye for goal and the killer pass saw him notch eight goals and 12 assists, making him one of the most outstanding attacking players in the competition.
Midfield hardman Isa Halim featured in 20 games and the two over-23 players should receive around $16,000 each.
Most players told TNP they would save the money, and Shahril added: "I haven't decided what to do except to set up a fund for my baby daughter for her future education expenses.
"The season is still long with the Malaysia Cup and national team duties, and the SEA Games for the younger players.
"When we have the time, maybe we can go for a nice holiday after two years of football action."
Over the course of the season, the LionsXII registered 32 players and it is believed 17 are set to receive $10,000 or more.
Besides the prize money, the players also received win bonuses that range from $400 to $800 for each game. The amount is halved for a draw and they do not receive any money for defeats.
For the championship-winning game against Felda United, the win bonus was bumped up to $1,000, while the win bonus of $800 against Kelantan was unclaimed after the LionsXII lost 2-0 in Kota Baru.