ASEAN players were introduced as an additional quota for foreigners in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) this season. It was a chance for the best stars around the region to come test themselves in one of the most competitive leagues in Southeast Asia.
A lot of clubs took the opportunity to invest in a new ASEAN talent, while some stuck it out with the ones who had already been performing.
FOX Sports Malaysia highlights top five ASEAN stars who made an impact in the 2018 MSL.
Some names have been highlighted before, but they are here again simply because of their quality.
Hariss Harun (JDT)
The Singapore midfielder is one of the longest serving players in the club, having been part of their first league success back in 2014. Almost five years on, at only 27, Hariss looks to be just realizing his full potential. His midfield assurance and work ethic are among the reason why JDT strolled to a fifth consecutive league title. Hariss doesn’t do anything extravagant, but he keeps things tight and flowing. Having quality ball playing midfielders like Fernando Elizari, Afiq Fazail and Safawi Rasid also allows him to give others more attacking creativity, while he sits deeper and plugs the holes. But being captain has changed Hariss in some ways. “As one of the seniors, it is my duty to make sure the new players know what it means to be in the team and what the club expects. The best way to show how that’s done is for me to go out and be the best professional,” he told FOX Sports Malaysia. Hariss couldn’t have said it better.
Safuwan Baharudin (Pahang FA)
This is another Singaporean who has stood out as a top ASEAN buy, not only for Pahang but for his previous clubs as well. When Safuwan scored in the 4-0 thumping of Kuala Lumpur FA in May, he created history by netting against 20 different clubs in Malaysia. It also meant he has now scored over 30 goals in his seven seasons in the country. Not bad for a player known mostly for his defensive aptitude. Still only 26, Safuwan has plenty of football left in him and it was clear why Pahang were keen to tie him until 2020. Having won all the major trophies in Malaysia already, Safuwan can now go on to establish himself one of the finest imports for the Elephants.
Andik Vermansyah (Kedah FA)
Selangor’s decision to end Andik’s services meant the Indonesian was going to be courted by a flurry of clubs, despite his struggles with injuries in 2017. Kedah eventually won the race for his signature and Andik has showed them why. Blessed with blistering pace which always gives him an advantage over his opponents, Andik’s deliveries have also improved and he ended the season with a flurry of assists. This is besides the two goals he managed for the Red Eagles. With Liridon Krasniqi and Paulo Rangel set to return from injury in the Malaysia Cup, we can expect to see more of Andik’s brilliance.
Thierry Chanta Bin (Terengganu FA)
Theirry has set one record straight in the MSL this year, that Cambodian players can excel in Malaysia. While his other contemporaries such as Chan Vathanaka and Keo Sokpheng failed miserably and returned home, this midfielder has flourished with the Turtles. Theirry doesn’t score many goals, but he is a hard worker, a quality which Irfan Bakti and almost all coaches in the world look for in a player. When he doesn’t play, Terengganu clearly lack the energy and workmanship he brings to the team. It was evident in the 2-0 loss against Selangor FA in the final league game, which ultimately cost the east-coast side second place.
Faris Ramli (PKNS FC)
After starring for Home United FC in 2017, it was going to take a big pulling factor for Faris to pack everything and head to Malaysia. Datuk K. Rajagobal was his motivating factor. “He’s a good tactician and I was wondering when I would play under him. I was really impressed by him even he was head coach of Malaysia,” Faris said. True enough, the Singapore winger has been flying under the guidance of ‘King Raja’. He finished the MSL as the highest scoring ASEAN player (6 goals), and already looks like replicating that form in the Malaysia Cup. Faris is surely one player who could stay in Malaysia for the foreseeable future.
Photo Credit: Pahang FA, Kedah FA