Balestier's rookie trainer Kraljevic gets Coach's gong
Warriors FC coach Alex Weaver must have been wondering last night: What more do I have to do?
Two weeks ago, the Briton led his side to their first Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title for five years, pipping rivals Brunei DPMM on the last day after a nail-biting finish to the season.
He and DPMM coach Steve Kean were thought to be favourites for the Coach of the Year award at the league's Awards Night at the ITE College East last night.
Instead, the gong went to Balestier Khalsa's Marko Kraljevic, who guided his side to the RHB Singapore Cup last Friday.
But Weaver insisted he was not disappointed by the snub.
"Not at all," he said, with a smile.
"It would have been nice but we got the main one, which is the league.
"That's what means everything to me and the lads.
"It (Coach of the Year award) would have been a bonus."
As the winner's name was announced, both Weaver and Kraljevic were seen with their hands clasped together, on their chin.
And, while some might question Kraljevic's choice as best coach, he certainly had his supporters, too.
Chants of "Marko! Marko!" filled the auditorium as the German-born Croat was listed as a nominee, and continued as he made his way up on stage to receive his award.
Weaver praised Kraljevic and Kean for having good seasons, and added: "I don't know who makes the decisions and what criteria they go on, but we've got the league title and there's no subjectivity in that at all - we were the best team in the league this season."
S.League chief operating officer Kok Wai Leong, who led a six-man committee to decide the best coach, player and young player, explained: "The performance of the team all round, and winning the RHB Singapore Cup, speaks for itself.
"Balestier have done very well this season, despite being a club that are not as financially strong as some of the traditional big guns.
"Since Marko took over from Darren Stewart, you can see there has been a transformation of the team, and that is a mark of a good coach."
The good-natured Kraljevic was still in disbelief after the ceremony ended.
"I'm very surprised," he said.
"It is my first year as an S.League coach, so it's unbelievable.
"To me, all three of us (nominated coaches) deserved it because everyone did a great job.
"It was an equal fight and could have gone to anyone.
"I have to thank so many people for this award, though because, in a team sport, it's never about one individual.
"I want to thank my family, the Balestier management for giving me the full support, my support staff and the players.
"By the way, I was just joking about wanting to become the national team coach (a comment made after the Singapore Cup final)...
"My job with Balestier is not over yet. Our next target is the league."
I’m very surprised. It is my first year as an S.League coach, so it’s unbelievable.
— Balestier’s Marko Kraljevic
Since Marko took over from Darren Stewart, you can see there has been a transformation of the team, and that is a mark of a good coach.
— S.League chief operating officer Kok Wai Leong
ROLL OF HONOUR
Great Eastern Player of the Year
- Hassan Sunny (Warriors FC)
RHB Coach of the Year
- Marko Kraljevic (Balestier Khalsa)
Yeo’s Young Player of the Year
- Nicolas Velez (Warriors FC)
Tiger Beer Goal of the Year
- Fabian Kwok (Geylang International)
Great Eastern Referee of the Year
- Muhammad Taqi Aljaafari
Diadora Assistant Referee of the Year
- Jeffrey Goh Gek Pheng
Mikasa Story of the Year
- “Beating Cancer is his Biggest Win”
— David Lee (The New Paper)
Yeo’s Picture of the Year
- “Head over Heels”
— Jeremy Long (The New Paper)
Polar Fan Club of the Year
- Warriors FC
Singapore Pools Fair Play Award
- Geylang International
RHB Top Scorer
- Rodrigo Tosi (Brunei DPMM)
Special Award (100 goals)
- Qiu Li (Home United)
- Aleksandar Duric (Tampines Rovers)