2016 League Cup: Young Player of the Tournament
This year’s League Cup drew to a conclusion on Saturday night as Albirex Niigata (S) picked up a record-equalling third title by beating Brunei DPMM 2-0.
However, that also gave younger players, particularly from the Prime League, a chance to shine for some of the clubs.
FourFourTwo looks back and picks its choice for Young Player of the Tournament, while also giving four more names a deserving shout-out.
*Only players below the age of 23 were considered
Winner: Naofumi Tanaka (Albirex Niigata (S)
It’s hard to believe that Tanaka is only 22, judging from his assured demeanour on the pitch. The left wing-back has settled in remarkably well in his first season at the club and has even been handed the captain’s armband in recent times despite his young age.
The 1.8m defender plays with the maturity and composure of someone five years older and featured in every game of the White Swans’ victorious run, starting four of those.
While he did not score or assist, his presence at the back was integral to an Albirex defence that conceded only once. Tanaka’s positional awareness enabled him to make interceptions with ease, while his superb first touch and control made him an effective outlet in attack.
He turned in another impeccable display in the final, leading his team to their first trophy of the season.