Duo vying for Golden Boot
Both Ilso and Ramazotti looking for consolation prize after disappointing season for their clubs
One is a Danish maverick who captures the imagination with moments of magic, the other is an imposing Brazilian hitman who just cannot stop scoring.
Home United's Ken Ilso and Rafael Ramazotti of Brunei DPMM arrived in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League last season with impressive credentials, and both have undeniably lit up the competition.
Although neither has had the season he was hoping for from a team perspective, one of them could still enjoy personal success in the form of the Golden Boot, with Ramazotti's tally of 20 goals putting him two ahead of Ilso in the race.
Both have a game to go, with Ramazotti clearly the hot favourite.
Asked about his chances of overtaking the Brazilian when Home visit Geylang International at Bedok Stadium tonight, Ilso told The New Paper: "Actually, my personal goal before the season started was 20 goals. But it looks like even that might not be enough to win it.
"I know people will want to hear that I'm gunning for the Golden Boot, but my first aim is to meet my personal target, so I'll need to do my best to score two goals."
Ken Ilso. TNP FILE PHOTO
Ilso, who previously plied his trade in the German Bundesliga with Fortuna Dusseldorf, has been a key contributor in a prolific Protectors outfit that share the best attacking record of 49 goals in 23 games with champions Albirex Niigata.
The 29-year-old, however, was keen to share the credit with his teammates.
"The supply has been really good, with me and Azhar (Sairudin), in particular, having an excellent relationship," said Ilso.
"I think this year we've also had more opportunities and a lot more options.
"Shamil (Sharif) has given me a couple of assists, I've combined well with Song (Ui Yong) when he's been in an offensive role, and Faris (Ramli), who has been unfortunate with injuries, has contributed a lot when he played."
Meanwhile, Ramazotti's campaign ends tomorrow when 2015 league champions DPMM visit Toa Payoh Stadium to play Balestier Khalsa, and the 28-year-old is striving to end on a high.
"The main aim was for the team was to be champions again," the 1.93m-striker told TNP.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't and it's disappointing.
"But I'm happy that there's the consolation of me being in the running to be the top scorer like last year.
"To win the Golden Boot would not just be for me but also for my teammates, because no one can play, score and win alone.
"It will be an award for all of us."
Ramazotti's place at the summit of the top scorers chart is even more remarkable, given he had only scored six goals in his first 13 league games.
He then hit the "Go" button and scored 14 in the 10 matches since.
"If you really must know the secret to the turnaround, it is simply confidence and hard work," explained Ramazotti, who also played top-flight football in Portugal, Switzerland and Japan.
"I continued to believe in myself and my teammates and I knew the goals would come.
"I didn't change anything but just kept my focus and confidence."
I think Ramazotti has certain areas of his game where he’s really strong and it fits perfectly with the way Brunei DPMM have been playing. It’s always good having this kind of ‘fight’ with the other top strikers and I think this excitement is very important for the S.League.
— Ilso on Ramazotti
He has big quality and also plenty of experience, but I don’t think of it as me battling against Ken Ilso... He is just doing his best for his team, while I am doing my best for mine.
— Ramazotti on Ilso
S.LEAGUE TOP SCORERS
Rafael Ramazotti (Brunei DPMM)
Ken Ilso (Home United)
Jonathan Behe (Warriors FC)
Stipe Plazibat (Hougang United)
Atsushi Kawata (Albirex Niigata)
Billy Mehmet (Tampines Rovers)
Jordan Webb (Tampines Rovers)