SINGAPORE — Two days after the Lion City Sailors clinched their historic first Singapore Premier League title, third-placed Hougang United were the big winners of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Awards Night on Tuesday (12 October) for their highest-ever finish in club history.
The Cheetahs swept two of the three top accolades, with league top scorer Tomoyuki Doi earning the nod for the Player of the Year award and head coach Clement Teo winning the Coach of the Year honour.
Doi, 24, enjoyed a stellar maiden season at Hougang United as he scored 19 times and made six assists in 21 matches. He was the linchpin of Hougang's no-nonsense direct football that saw them leap from sixth spot in last year's SPL season to third this year.
"I am happy and honoured. I'm also grateful to my teammates and coaches for believing in me and pushing me to improve myself," said Doi, who was also on the final shortlist for the award last season for his previous club Albirex Niigata (Singapore).
"Coming into a local club, I was prepared to adapt to a different culture and a team with different personalities. But I am thankful that my teammates made me comfortable to do my best for the team."
Meanwhile, 54-year-old Teo became the first Singaporean in 12 years – since Richard Bok of Singapore Armed Forces FC in 2009 – to be named Coach of the Year.
He dedicated his award to the late Salim Moin, the former Singapore international and Hougang coach who died last November. Teo and Salim had began working together at Woodlands Wellington in 2012.
"It has been a rollercoaster season - matches where we were expected to take points, we lost, while matches where we were expected to have a hard time, we managed to get something out of it.
"I must thank my players and coaches who pushed one another to get us to third place, even though we're a 'heartland' side. We will try again next season to compete for trophies with Lion City Sailors and Albirex Niigata."
Sailors stalwarts win Young Player of the Year, Goal of the Year
The Sailors could also celebrate their defender Nur Adam Abdullah winning the Young Player of the Year award for managing to establish himself as a starter in their star-studded squad.
The 20-year-old left-back made 16 appearances and recorded one assist, earned his a maiden call-up to the national team for their provisional AFF Suzuki Cup squad.
"I was very nervous to join a club with so many good players, because I didn't know whether they would discourage or scold me because of my inexperience," Nur Adam said.
"Thankfully, they were very encouraging to me, and that gave me a lot of confidence to give my best for the team. Our previous coach (Aurelio) Vidmar also showed trust in me to put me in the starting line-ups, so when he left and coach Kim Do-hoon took over, I was ready for whatever he wanted me to do on the pitch."
His teammate Gabriel Quak, last year's Player of the Year, did not go home empty-handed this year as he clinched the Goal of the Year honours with his sublime volley from just inside the box against Balestier Khalsa in April.
This year's Awards Night saw the inaugual SPL Golden Glove award for the league's best goalkeeper, and Albirex's Takahiro Koga was the runaway winner after registering a league-high eight clean sheets and helping his side concede the fewest goals (19) this season.
FAS Recognition Awards for long-time contributors to the sport
A total of 15 FAS Recognition Awards were handed out at the ceremony, which was held at the Aux Media studio and streamed online.
Recipients included veteran Daniel Bennett, Singapore's most-capped international who completed a record-extending 23rd league season with Tampines Rovers. Long-serving national team equipment manager Omar Mohamed was also recognised, alongside the likes of former national head coaches Jita Singh and Seak Poh Leong.
The SPL Team of the Year recognised the season’s best players in a 4-3-3 formation and comprised these players: Takahiro Koga (Albirex Niigata); Kazuki Hashioka, Shuya Yamashita (Albirex), Jorge Fellipe, Nur Adam Abdullah (Lion City Sailors), Ryoya Taniguchi (Albirex), Shahdan Sulaiman (Lion City Sailors), Kaishu Yamazaki (Hougang); Tomoyuki Doi (Hougang), Stipe Plazibat (Lion City Sailors) and Sime Zuzul (Balestier Khalsa).
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