Hazwan the key factor in historic Hong Kah victory

Above: Hong Kah Secondary School's Is Hazwan Azhar, who scored twice, won the man of the match award in the Schools National football B Division final. Left: He scored his school's third goal - directly from a corner - in the 6-0 victory over St Jose
Above: Is Hazwan Azhar scored his school's third goal - directly from a corner - in the 6-0 victory over St Joseph's Institution.PHOTOS: TED CHEN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Above: Hong Kah Secondary School's Is Hazwan Azhar, who scored twice, won the man of the match award in the Schools National football B Division final. Left: He scored his school's third goal - directly from a corner - in the 6-0 victory over St Jose
Above: Hong Kah Secondary School's Is Hazwan Azhar, who scored twice, won the man of the match award in the Schools National football B Division final.PHOTOS: TED CHEN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

As he stood in front of the English Premier League (EPL) trophy two weeks ago, Is Hazwan Azhar remembered watching Chelsea captain John Terry lift the famous silverware at the end of last season.

It was then that Hazwan vowed to himself that he would do all he could to help his Hong Kah Secondary School team hoist the Schools National football championships B Division title.

The dream became a reality yesterday when he inspired Hong Kah to an emphatic 6-0 victory over St Joseph's Institution (SJI) in the final at the Singapore University of Technology and Design field.

Hazwan's man-of-the-match performance in midfield steered Hong Kah to retain their title - they have now won it three times in four years - as the 16-year-old netted twice and had an equal number of assists.

The victory helped his school to nail down a fourth successive triumph in the nationals.

When Hazwan was in Secondary 1 and 2, he was part of the Hong Kah side who won the C division title in 2012 and 2013 before bagging the B division crown in his first attempt last year.

"I am just so happy to have made history for the school and for myself," said Hazwan of his latest feat.

"A few weeks ago when I saw the EPL trophy (it was brought to the school as part of the Barclays Asia Trophy initiatives), it inspired me to train harder and I made sure I gave my all out there."

Hazwan hopes to join current LionsXII defender Afiq Yunos, former national team player Ridhuan Muhammad and current Young Lions midfielder Ammirul Emmran, who graduated from Hong Kah, and went on to seal their reputation in the local scene.

Hong Kah coach Mohamed Zainudeen singled out the skilful player for praise. "Hazwan joined us in Secondary 1 and what you see today is a product of four years of hard work," he noted.

Making their first appearance at the national finals after a 37-year absence, SJI, who are coached by former national team defender Kadir Yahaya, conceded four goals in the first half.

The pick of the goals came in the 34th minute when Hazwan scored straight from a corner kick with his effort inadvertently helped on by SJI goalkeeper Timothy Wong.

Nuri Irfan, Muhammad Aidil, Danial Hakim and Joel Chng were the team's other scorers.

Despite the backing of close to 800 supporters hoping to witness a first national football title triumph since 1978, SJI could not mount a fightback in the second half as Hong Kah added two goals.

Nonetheless, SJI captain, Elliot Ng, 16, said there was still much to be proud of as SJI lifted the South Zone title, their first football crown in 23 years.

He said: "At the start of the season, our main goal was to win South Zone and get into the top four of the Nationals.

"We achieved that this year and I'm proud of the team, irrespective of today's result."

Deepanraj Ganesan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'Hazwan the key factor in historic Hong Kah victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe