This week on Football Tribe, we will be looking ahead to the 2019 season with a new feature series. Today, we suggest which rising stars could make their major breakthroughs in the upcoming campaign.
Name: Akhyar Rashid
Club: Johor Darul Ta'zim
Born in Alor Setar, Kedah, Akhyar grew up playing football from a young age, establishing himself as one of the brightest Malaysian talents in a generation. Stating previously that his brother's participation in the sport encouraged him to play, he made his debut with his local team, Kedah, at the age of 17. He went on to score his first senior goal in July 2017, aged 18, against Melaka United in a Malaysian Cup Match. Akhyar plays as a winger. He has been praised by his positional flexibility and is known for his pace and dribbling skills. He has big potential and can be an outstanding player. This season, he signed for Johor Darul Ta’zim and surely will offer a big impact for the Southern Tigers' squad in both the Super League and AFC Champions League.
Name: Ekanit Panya
Club: Chiangrai United
Making his debut at only 15 back in 2015, there were signs of something special about this kid. 22 days later, Ekanit would score to become the youngest ever Thai League (T1) goalscorer. Knowing they have a real gem of a player in their hands, Chiangrai United decided to loan Ekanit out to feeder Chiangmai City (T3) and Chiangmai FC (T2), allowing him to get the much-needed game time to develop his skills. Last season the attacking midfielder featured regularly for “The Lanna Tigers” in the second division, cementing his place as the team’s main creative force, helping Chiangmai win promotion to T1 for the first time in the club’s history.
Technically excellent and a hard worker, Ekanit was called up to the U19 team for the AFC U19 Championships last October, where He helped Thailand reach the knockout stage and was seen as one of the few positives from a rather disappointing tournament.
This upcoming 2019 campaign, Chiangrai United have made a commitment to end the string of loan deals the youngster has been on, meaning that it is now time for Ekanit to prove himself in the top tier of Thai football. The 19 years old looked lively when he came on as a substitute against Tampines Rovers FC in the LEO Pre-season Cup, scoring to complete a 3-0 victory. Under new head coach Jose Alves Borges, the man who nurtured the likes of Chanathip, Tanaboon and many current national team players, Ekanit can be sure that he is in the right hands. It’ll be interesting to see what this wonderkid can achieve with “The Beetles” this season.
Name: Osvaldo Haay
Club: Persebaya Surabaya
Despite rumours of a move to Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung, the 2018 Liga 1 Young Player of The Year will continue his journey with Persebaya Surabaya in 2019. If he can continue what he has done with the Green Force, his contribution could help the club break into the top five or even challenge for the title. Nine goals and three assists from last season 21 appearances may well double this year as Osvaldo has become the perfect substitution for the Andik Vermansyah figure that Bonekmania have missed for so long. Osvaldo has not only a bright future for Persebaya but also for Indonesian national team itself. 2018 was the year for players like Febry Hariyadi and Riko Simanjuntak, but for sure 2019 looks like the year for him. He’s not only has excellent pace and acceleration but also a good goal instinct, allowing him to play both in wide areas and down the middle.
Name: Dinh Thanh Binh
Club: Viettel FC
After starring in Vietnam's U20 World Cup back in 2017, Thanh Binh had the potential to become the main striker for the senior National Team. However, an unfortunate injury in 2018 halted his development. Since returning from the setback, Thanh Binh has shown his talent in many youth tournaments. He will be the hope for Vietnam's team in next months AFF U22 Championship. If he can play well in that tournament, he could be vital for Viettel's V.League campaign.