Sundram has best chance

Sundram has best chance

It has been almost five months since their Malaysia Super League (MSL) triumph.

But the LionsXII have been given more recognition for their historic achievement of being the first Singapore side in 19 years to win the title.

The team are in line for up to five awards at the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) annual awards.

Goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, defender Baihakki Khaizan and forward Shahril Ishak have been named among the six top MSL players in their respective positions.

V Sundramoorthy was also one of the six coaches nominated.

Coaches from the MSL and second-tier Malaysian Premier League (MPL) will cast votes in each of the categories, and the winners will receive their awards at a ceremony in Selangor tomorrow week.

The player who receives the highest percentage of votes will also be given the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.

National skipper Shahril, who will play for second-tier Johor Darul Takzim II next season, said his former coach would make the most deserving winner among the Singaporean quartet.

"I think Sundram has the best chance to win an award," said the reigning ASEAN Footballer of the Year.

"He did a great job in guiding a team of young players to the title.

"We (the LionsXII) had a team of experienced players in 2012 and only finished runners-up in the MSL, so that goes to show what an achievement it was this season."

Sundram, who left Singapore last weekend, will coach MPL team Negeri Sembilan next season.

Sundram's main rivals are Bojan Hodak of Malaysian FA Cup winners Kelantan, Dollah Salleh of Malaysia Cup winners Pahang, and last year's award winner B Sathianathan from ATM FA.

Shahril played down his own chances at winning the Striker of the Year award, citing the tough competition.

The 29-year-old will vie with Johor Darul Takzim's Norshahrul Idlan Talaha - MVP in 2010, 2011 and 2012 - and Selangor talisman Amri Yahyah, among others.


"To be nominated is already a great achievement for me, considering the number of good players in the MSL," said Shahril, the LionsXII's top scorer last season with nine goals.

"I do hope that at least one of Izwan, Baihakki or myself, wins an award for Singapore. But every category is tough."

Shot-stopper Izwan is up against the doyen of Malaysian football, Kelantan's Khairul Fahmie Che Mat.

But LionsXII goalkeeper coach Lee Bee Seng feels his 22-year-old custodian has a chance of winning.

"For a young goalkeeper like him to perform so well in a foreign league is rare, and it's good that people recognise this," said Lee.

"He conceded the least number of goals in the MSL last season, so he stands a chance.

"Among the five nominees, Izwan is in the top three. I think the award will go to him, Fahmie or the Pahang goalkeeper (Khairul Azhan Khalid) for his performance in the Malaysia Cup final."

Izwan, however, isn't holding his breath.

"I'm shocked because I've never been nominated for an individual award before.

"But Fahmie, (Perak's) Farizal Marlias and the ATM goalkeeper Faizal Harun are all good, so I'm not sure of my chances.

"I don't want to get my hopes up.

"Goalkeepers rarely get recognised for their performance, so being nominated already makes me very happy."

Likewise, defender Baihakki Khaizan is content just to be recognised as one of the MSL's top defenders.

The 29-year-old, who will line up alongside Shahril next year after signing a megabucks $1.5m, four-year deal with Johor, said: "I feel honoured to be nominated, of course.

"You give your best the whole season and, if you manage to achieve something like we did in winning the title, these awards will come by.

"But I don't want to get carried away and I'm not expecting anything.

"The other contenders will all make worthy winners."

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