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Hassan Sunny’s nasi padang stall draws China fans

Lions goalkeeper Hassan Sunny has become a hero among China football fans after recording 11 saves in the 3-1 loss to Thailand in a World Cup qualifier on June 11.

The Thais needed to win by a three-goal margin in Bangkok to leapfrog second-placed China and advance to the final round of Asia’s qualifiers.

However, Hassan’s heroics and Ikhsan Fandi’s goal meant that China, who lost 1-0 to already-qualified South Korea in Seoul, progressed instead due to a better head-to-head record over the Thais.

As a result, Hassan has become the toast of China fans in online forums, with some Chinese news outlets even publicising details of his Muslim food stall in Tampines.

The outlet in a coffee shop at Block 144 Tampines Street 12 quickly became a hotspot for China fans on June 12. In pictures seen by The Straits Times, there was a long queue of customers for its Muslim fare such as nasi padang and nasi lemak.

Some of them also took selfies with the stall’s green signboard in the background.

Jing Tao, a Chinese national on holiday in Singapore, was one of those in the queue.

The 42-year-old decided to patronise the stall as a way to thank Hassan, after finding out the stall’s address from a news outlet.

While Jing is not a fan of nasi lemak, he had no qualms ordering a plate for himself, telling ST: “This nasi lemak has a lot of significance. His performance had a lot of significance as well.”

William Lin, who similarly came down to show appreciation for Hassan’s performance, bought two packets of nasi lemak for him and his daughter as “there were no seats left”.

The 37-year-old told ST: “Hassan’s performance in the match was very outstanding, I saw that he has a nasi padang stall, so I decided to come down to try it. I’m extremely, extremely, thankful to the Singapore team.”

Singaporean Keith Ong, who frequents the coffee shop, told ST that only Hassan’s stall drew so many customers while he was there.

“Usually there’s less than 20 people (queueing at the stall). Today was a drastic difference, it was jam packed,” said the 39-year-old, who noted that there were more than 50 people in the queue by the time he left at noon.

“You could tell that everybody came for Hassan, they looked Chinese and they were using Douyin,” he added, referring to China’s equivalent of the video-sharing platform TikTok.

Many fans also flooded social media platform Weibo to thank Hassan. One of them called the 40-year-old “god-like”.

Another said: “Mr Hassan, just let me know the next time you are in China.”

However, another Weibo user lamented the state of Chinese football, saying: “What hope is there if we need to rely on another team to reach the next round of qualifiers?”

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