Football: Celebrations continue for Albirex at S-League awards night; ST wins Story of the Year

Albirex Niigata’s players and staff celebrating with the S-League trophy at Jalan Besar Stadium on Oct 26,0 2016.
Albirex Niigata’s players and staff celebrating with the S-League trophy at Jalan Besar Stadium on Oct 26,0 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - The year belonged to them as they became the first team in the S-League's 21-year history to sweep an unprecedented quadruple of Singapore football titles.

So it came as no surprise that Albirex Niigata took the top individual honours at the S-League awards night on Tuesday (Nov 1).

Striker Atsushi Kawata, Albirex's top scorer with 13 league goals this season, won the Player of the Year award, making it the second seuccessive year that an Albirex player earned that accolade.

Fumiya Kogure, who joined Hougang United this season, clinched the honour last year.

Naoki Naruo earned the nod for the Coach of the Year award. The 42-year-old tactician made a triumphant return this year to the S-League after first coaching Albirex in 2009.

The awards night at Marina Bay Sands capped a glittering year for the White Swans. Under Naruo, Albirex won their first S-League crown since joining the competition in 2004. They also won the Community Shield, League Cup and the Singapore Cup.

But unlike the football trophies, not all the plaques went to foreigners. Hougang United's midfielder M. Anumanthan, 22, won the Young Player of the Year award.

The Straits Times sports reporter Chua Siang Yee took the gong for the Story of the Year award for his story that featured former Liverpool and Arsenal player Jermaine Pennant, who joined Tampines Rovers in January. The Englishman talked openly about his chequered past and expressed his desire to move on from that troubled period of his football career in the story.

List of winners

Player of the Year: Atsushi Kawata (Albirex Niigata)

Coach of the Year: Naoki Naruo (Albirex)

Young Player of the Year: M. Anumanthan (Hougang)

Story of the Year: Chua Siang Yee (Pennant looking to start over in S'pore, The Sunday Times)

Goal of the Year: Tomoki Menda (Albirex)

Top scorer award: Rafael Ramazotti (Brunei DPMM)