Hougang United the big winners at FAS Awards Night
Cheetahs bring home Player of the Year, top scorer and Coach of the Year awards
They may have finished third in the Singapore Premier League behind champions Lion City Sailors and Albirex Niigata.
But the efforts of unfashionable Hougang United were recognised at the Football Association of Singapore Awards Night yesterday, as they picked up the Best Player and Coach gongs.
In addition to winning the top scorer award, 19-goal striker Tomoyuki Doi was crowned Player of the Year, capping a fruitful two years in Singapore. He had also won the SPL title with Albirex Niigata last year.
With the full set of team and individual honours, Doi will be seeking greener pastures in Japan, but he can always look back to how his career took off in Singapore with an impressive total of 30 goals in 34 games.
"My experience in Singapore has made me a stronger person and player," said the 24-year-old, who pipped the Lion City Sailors' Jorge Fellipe and Stipe Plazibat to the award.
"I'm also thankful that Singaporeans have treated me very well, which is not always the case in Japan because sometimes the players and coaches can be not as friendly.
"When I joined Hougang, I expected it to be tough because of the culture difference. But having teammates like Kaishu Yamazaki and coach Clement Teo really helped me settle down and build my confidence.
"I won the league but missed out on the top scorer and Player of the Year awards last season, so these were things I really wanted, and so I worked hard to become a better No. 9."
While Doi tries his luck in Japan and fields interest from Malaysian and Thai clubs, Coach of the Year Teo is staying put as he plans to take Hougang to greater heights.
The Cheetahs were the only side to beat the Sailors this season, taking five points out of nine off the eventual champions. However, they lost all three encounters against Albirex and their title challenge faded.
After beating Albirex's Keiji Shigetomi and Young Lions' Philippe Aw to the award, the 54-year-old Teo dedicated it to the late Salim Moin, his mentor, friend and former Hougang and Woodlands Wellington colleague who died last year.
"I am honoured, but I couldn't have done this alone," he said. "I have 25 sons in the changing room, a supportive chairman (Bill Ng) and good backroom staff, and they have all done well.
"I truly appreciate this recognition from my fellow professionals.
"But as a club, we haven't won anything yet and, to the best of our abilities, we will try to improve and chance that.
"The Sailors have got a lot going for them. They have set the bar high, and it is up to the rest of us to match what they are doing with what we have."
One of the Sailors who has stood out this season is left-back Nur Adam Abdullah, who was named Young Player of the Year for a sterling season as he mixed defensive tenacity with a propensity to bomb forward and augment his team's attack.
The 20-year-old, who won The New Paper's Dollah Kassim Award in 2018, said: "I will continue to work hard, and I hope this is just the beginning of a fruitful career for me."
FAS Awards Night winners
Player of the Year: Tomoyuki Doi (Hougang United)
Young Player of the Year: Nur Adam Abdullah (Lion City Sailors)
Coach of the Year: Clement Teo (Hougang)
Goal of the Year: Gabriel Quak (Sailors)
Referee of the Year: Jansen Foo
Assistant referee of the Year: Ronnie Koh
SPL top scorer: Tomoyuki Doi
SPL Golden Glove: Takahiro Koga (Albirex Niigata)
SPL Team of the Year: Takahiro Koga (Albirex); Kazuki Hashioka (Albirex), Jorge Fellipe (Sailors), Shuya Yamashita (Albirex), Nur Adam Abdullah (Sailors); Ryoya Taniguchi (Albirex), Kaishu Yamazaki (Hougang), Shahdan Sulaiman (Sailors); Tomoyuki Doi (Hougang), Stipe Plazibat (Sailors), Sime Zuzul (Balestier Khalsa)
Story of the Year: Leaving no child behind at HotShotz football clinic (Dilenjit Singh, The New Paper)
Photo of the Year: Battle above the ground (Siaw Woon Chong, Junpiter Futbol)
FAS Recognition Awards: Omar Mohamed, Daniel Bennett, A. Raamasamy, Jimmy Cheong, Srikisan Ramdas, Thomas Pang, Suzanna Foo, Augustine Arlando, Lai Boon Teck, K. Visva Nathan, N.Santhan, Queensway Secondary School, Bowen Secondary School, Jita Singh, Seak Poh Leong