Football: Albirex lead S-League Awards nominees list

Albirex Niigata players with the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League trophy after their match against Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium on Oct 26, 2016. Albirex had sealed the S.League title on Oct 14, 2016, with a 3-0 win over Hougang United.
Albirex Niigata players with the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League trophy after their match against Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium on Oct 26, 2016. Albirex had sealed the S.League title on Oct 14, 2016, with a 3-0 win over Hougang United. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Quadruple chasing Albirex Niigata have swept all before them on the field and their dominance continued when the nominees for this year's S-League Awards Night were announced yesterday.

The Japanese football team, who have won the Community Shield, League Cup and S-League title and face Tampines Rovers in tomorrow's Singapore Cup final, are in line for the major individual accolades. They will be given out on Nov 1 at the Marina Bay Sands.

Striker Atsushi Kawata was the team's top scorer with 13 goals, many of them decisive ones, and is one of four contenders for the Player of the Year prize. He is joined by compatriot and last year's winner Fumiya Kogure (Hougang United), Ken Ilso (Home United) and Hafiz Sujad (Tampines).

Naoki Naruo, who is into his second stint at Albirex and guided the club to their maiden league championship since joining the S-League in 2004, is a clear front-runner for Coach of the Year. He is up against 2015 winner Steve Kean of Brunei DPMM and Hougang's K. Balagumaran.

In the Young Player of the Year category, the White Swans' defender Naofumi Tanaka faces stiff competition from the Cheetahs' midfielder M. Anumanthan and the Home duo of Shahrin Saberin and Song Ui Young.

DPMM's Rafael Ramazotti has clinched back-to-back Top Scorer Awards. His 20 goals this term is one fewer than his tally last year.

Albirex, who finished the campaign as joint-top scorers with Tampines and DPMM on 50 goals, also feature prominently in the Goal of the Year award.

Wonder strikes by Kawata, Tomoki Menda and Shuto Inaba fill three of the five spots.

The Straits Times has also earned a nomination. Journalist Chua Siang Yee's piece on former Arsenal and Liverpool player Jermaine Pennant's determination to use his move to Tampines to reignite his career is up for the Story of the Year award.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2016, with the headline 'Albirex lead S-League Awards nominees list'. Print Edition | Subscribe