Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Opponent Watch: Kanbawza FC

The boys take a break from the S-League this weekend to play Kanbawza Football Club (usually shortened to KBZ), one of five invited foreign teams in this year's edition of the RHB Singapore Cup.

The Burmese club is currently leading the MNL Myanmar League table after 13 games with 8 wins, 4 draws and only 1 loss so far and Saturday's match will see Kanbawza coach P.N Sivaji return home to our shores, albeit for a short while.

The Singaporean was recently appointed as the head coach of Kanbawza FC on 1st May 2012 after his two year stint at fellow Myanmar club Okktha United as their technical director and first team coach expired in January this year. Under his tutelage, Okktha United won the Myanmar FA Cup in 2010, a great achievement considering that his team was made up of relative nobodies at that time.

Kanbawza head coach - P.N Sivaji
Photo Credit: Singapore Press Holdings

Sivaji probably need no introduction to fans of Singapore football. The 60 year old was the former coach of Home United and has also held the reins at Balestier Central in the late nineties / early noughties, as well as the Singapore Lions when they were playing in the Malaysia Cup in the early nineties. Sivaji was also a technical director with the FAS in a long list of career accolades and he will certainly be looking to inspire the Burmese to a victory over Woodlands.

Kanbawza FC was only founded as recently as 2005 as an amateur club playing in the semi professional Myanmar League. The league was then refashioned as the Myanmar National League in 2009, which required all teams to turn professional, prompting the club to sign stars such as Myanmar national team captain, Soe Myat Min. Following that move, Soe had the honour of being the most expensive player in Myanmar National League when he moved to Kanbawza from the Ministry of Finance & Revenue Football Team (what a mouthful!) in July 2009.

Kanbawza in their all-white home strip.
Photo Credit: Kanbawza FC

Despite finishing in 4th place consecutively in the Myanmar National League for the past two seasons, Kanbawza seems to have got it right this year as they lead the table with last season's champion, Yangon United, trailing in 3rd place and one point behind them.

Kanbawza boasts a well organized team with 29 year old Soe captaining the side. The midfielder has an illustrious international career, having played 59 times for his country and scoring 16 times, among those were 2 goals in Myanmar's 3 - 4 loss to Singapore in the 2004 Tiger Cup semi finals. He is also the only Burmese international who has scored against Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in international games, making him the clear dangerman for this fixture. Armanizam Dolah should have a busy time marshaling the midfield against the effervescent Soe, while Shamsurin Abdul Rahman should look to trouble the Burmese with blazing runs and crisp passes.

Soe Myat Min playing for Myanmar in the 2004 Tiger Cup.
Photo Credit:

Soe is not the only international playing for Kanbawza. Myanmar defenders Moe Win and Khin Maung Lwin are part of a relatively solid backline. However, the young defence is suspect to lapses of concentration and this is something Hussein Akil, Moon Soon-Ho and Goh Swee Swee should exploit. Our attckers will also be looking to put the ball past first choice Myanmar keeper Kyaw Zin Htet. Striker Soe Min Oo completes the flock of international players in this Kanbawza side, and Daniel Hammond and Fabien Lewis must be wary of the striker's pace and trickery.

The winner of this fixture would go on to the RHB Singapore Cup quarter finals to meet the winner of the Loyola Meralco Sparks - Geylang United fixture and judging by the S-League's match awareness campaign going on in Peninsula Plaza, we can expect a huge turnout of Burmese fans at Jalan Besar. In fact, we will probably be dwarfed by them as they look set to turn out in huge numbers.

What do you say we travel to "Little Myanmar" and give them a roaring good time?

Match Information
Date: Saturday, 19th May, 2012 (7.45pm kick-off)
Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium

*Woodlands Wellington has been denoted as the away team for this fixture.

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Never Surrender! We are behind you all the way.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

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