Saturday, September 08, 2012


Where Are They Now? Australia Under 16 Squad, AFF Cup 2008

Back in 2008 I attended much of the ASEAN Football Federation Youth Championships here in Jakarta. Five teams competed, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Bahrain. The Aussies won, beating Bahrain in the final.

But what of the players four years on. Back then they were under 16. How about today? Have any stepped up and made the grade?

Shafiq Ghani most certainly has. The Singaporean plays for Young Lions in the SLeague and has been called up for the national team.

It was at this event I first sat up and took notice of what Malaysia was doing at a youth level. Their professionalism was evident then. While other South East Asian squads used down time in the stands to goof around and play with their mobile phones the Malaysians watched the action on the field and took notes.

Striker Gary Steven Robbat also plays in the SLeague but for Harimau Muda. He has been linked with trials with European clubs but nothing has come of them yet.

One player who really caught my eye was Malaysian attacking midfielder Saaryindran Devandran. He too is with Harimau Muda in the SLeague. I made him the player of the tournament, not that anyone cares what I think anyway, and as I researched this piece I notice he had been made player of the tournament the year before in a meet in Hong Kong.

A young Brendan Hammill kissing the AFF Under 16 Cup.
But how about the Australians? Have any of that squad from four years back done anything in the game yet? Their captain, Brendan Hamill, was born in 1945 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and he, no, wait a minute, that can't be right. The football one, still not 20, signed for KLeague side Seongnam Ilhwa Chunwa not eight weeks ago.

Joseph Costa was born in Beirut in 1031 and became famous as an evangelical preacher...shit, done it again! The perils of research by Wiki...Costa the footballer was with Adelaide United but hasn't been updated for a while.

Kamal Said was born in Ethiopia but his family fled the war torn country when he was 11 years old, ending up in Australia. After spells with Melbourne Victory he stepped down to the State League with South Melbourne and Heidleberg United nee Alexander.

Interestingly the Victorian Football Federation also employ him as an ambassador giving advise and counselling to kids who have arrived in Australia from the Horn of  Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. That would be an interesting story for anyone down under keen to pursue it...

Striker Kerem Bulut is another Aussie from that squad who is making a name for himself overseas. In 2010 he joined Czech side Mlada Boleslav on a two year deal. In January this year he moved to Turkey with Eskisehirspor (glad this ain't a pod), but since returned to his former club in Czech Republic.

Trent Sainsbury missed out on the Final that year in Jakarta but is now playing in the A League for Central Coast.

While Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka may grab the headlines in China, the wonderfully named Million Butshiire is plying his trade in far less glamourous surroundings in League One there with Harbin Yiteng.

And me? Little old me who sat in the stand and watched every game bar one? I'm still here...

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