Goal's Malaysia Cup 2013 Awards

Seeing that the 2013 Malaysia Cup concluded last week, Goal Malaysia picks the cream of the crop in what was a thrilling competition from start to finish.

Khairul Azhan stole the limelight in the final night when he, continuously made major breaks denying Kelantan's efforts to find the early goal they needed. His performance that night didn't just give the Tok Gajah's fans a glorious night, but he also made the big names like Dickson Nwakaeme, Badhri Radzi, Norfarhan Muhammad and Indra Putra Mahayuddin look like nothing. Azhan's heroic actions didn't just start in the final itself, but since the beginning of the Malaysia Cup. Dollah Salleh said that  they "have overcome problems for the man between the sticks," indicating that the Pahang custodian has done well from day one.


There are many reasons to explain why Kelantan lost to Pahang in the final but one of the reasons, which we believe any of football pundits would agree is the absence of Obinna Nwaneri. Ever since the campaign started, Nwaneri has been nothing but a rock in defence. He was crucial in leading Kelantan's backline and not just dishing out tackles and blocking shots, he also helped Kelantan in the other end of the game by scoring goals for the Red Warriors. Kelantan clearly missed him in the final and he is a true defender who plays his heart out game after game.


With an exception to the final, Badhri Radzi was scintillating as usual in this tournament. He is the pinnacle of creativity when it comes to Kelantan, with most of their solid attacks being initiated by him. Besides his capabilities, Piya is also a good leader on the pitch, always organizing his midfield. Kelantan's run all the way into the final was certainly inspired by Piya, and his influence is so crucial that when he struggled to turn on the style in the final, Kelantan lost the match to Pahang.


The goalscorer that helped Pahang etched their name on the Malaysia Cup trophy, Matias Conti played a pivotal role in Pahang's miraculous run. The Argentine started off slowly but when he found his scoring touch, was almost unstoppable. From the third group match until the final at Shah Alam Stadium, Conti scored in seven of those eight matches. In the quarterfinal stage, Pahang was pitted against the best defensive side from the group stage in PKNS FC. The defence that kept two clean sheets against the star-studded Johor Darul Takzim team, could do little to stop Conti from earning the match ball. Despite looking like he wasn't completely fit in the final match, Conti's presence was enough to ensure that Kelantan players had to keep an eye out for him. Yet, Conti still managed to elude the attention to loop in a well-placed header.


The attacking midfielder had a breakout Malaysia Cup campaign, despite his team failing to make it out of the group stage. Amazingly the Deers scored as many goals in their six Malaysia Cup games as they did in 22 league games, with both S. Sivanesan and Fabio Barbosa netting five each. The youngster displayed his ability to break into the oppositions' box at opportune moments, and when the ball did find him he often made no mistake, demonstrating coolness in front of goal. The hat-trick in the loss to Pahang was the highlight, and it would be a shock if no Malaysian Super League team picks him up for 2014 on the back of some fine displays.


Pahang supporters are still talking about the six-foot Argentine striker Matias Conti. Why not? The 23-year-old was the man who struck the winner via a superb header which steered Pahang to their first Malaysia Cup success in 21 years. Opportunist Conti, always dangerous in the box, has been one of the better foreign imports but did not receive much coverage from the media. Things sure changed after last Sunday's Malaysia Cup final.


Admittedly, the fervent support of Kelantan fans carries on onto the Internet, not just in the stadium, to make sure that even though they lost the cup to Pahang, at least their captain, Badhri Radzi have Goal Malaysia's Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the recently-concluded Malaysia Cup.
However, we at believe that a player is only as good as the silverware he helps his team capture, and for that we've picked Pahang's Azamuddin Akil as Goal Malaysia's 2013 Malaysia Cup Best Player. He was phenomenal throughout the whole competition, but it was his contribution that won the ties against Sarawak and Kelantan.

Don't get us wrong, Badhri was also brilliant in the competition, but ultimately he failed to lead his team to their second consecutive Malaysia Cup, and he was unable to play at his usual level in the final match, a factor that contributed to Kelantan's defeat in the end.


One way to measure how good a coach is, to analyze his home form. Pahang head coach Dollah Salleh kicked off the 2013 Malaysia Cup campaign in Group C, which was also dubbed as the 'Group of Death', and was faced with a tough task of qualifying for the quarterfinals. However, he carefully planned his fixtures and achieved an unbeaten home run throughout the entire tournament. For a team that finished fifth in the Malaysian Super League (MSL), picking up the Malaysia Cup is a massive achievement. What more, his side beat clear favourites Kelantan in such a dominant way at the Shah Alam Stadium and that is reason enough for Dollah to be named the best coach of the tournament.