Chanathip, Thailand dominate FourFourTwo’s first ever Southeast Asian Football Awards
Trailblazer Chanathip Songkrasin was the major success story on an individual level for Southeast Asian footballers in 2017, making him a clear winner for our first ever Player of the Year award.
The winners were determined by a panel of football experts, which included Malaysian under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee, Thai national team technical director Witthaya Laohakul, Home United manager Aidil Sharin, Bhayangkara FC assistant manager Yeyen Tumena and FourFourTwo’s team of Asia-based writers.
I have to thank FourFourTwo for picking me as the best player of the year in ASEAN football ... I have to continue improving and go as far as I can
Finalists were initially determined in seven categories - Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, National team of the Year, Club of the Year, Best Foreigner, Rising Star and Fan Favourite - before the winners were decided.
Chanathip was almost a unanimous choice in his category, finishing well ahead of Thai teammate Teerasil Dangda, Indonesian goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa, Myanmar’s Aung Thu and V.League player of the year Dinh Thanh Trung.
With some wondering how much playing time he would get in his first season with Consadole Sapporo, the 24-year-old Chanathip moved into the starting line-up in just his second game and stayed there all season long.
Promoted to the top division ahead of the 2017 season, Sapporo briefly flirted with relegation before finishing safely in 11th place in the 18-team league, 11 points clear of danger.
The diminutive Chanathip quickly earned cult status among the Hokkaido-based club’s fans and will look to build on that impressive debut in 2018.
Thailand further enhanced their reputation after making it all the way to the final round of World Cup qualifiers
“I have to thank FourFourTwo for picking me as the best player of the year in ASEAN football,” Chanathip said.
“I have to continue improving myself and go as far as I can. Thank you for the support from everyone.”
The War Elephants and Buriram United took out the national team and club of the year accolades respectively, continuing a purple patch for Thai football.
Thailand further enhanced their reputation after making it all the way to the final round of World Cup qualifiers, including a 2-2 draw with eventual qualifiers Australia, while Buriram regained their Thai league title, finishing a commanding 14 points clear of second-placed Muangthong United.
Prolific goalscorer Sylvano Comvalius won import of the year for his Golden Boot-winning season with Bali United, which earned him a move to Suphanburi for 2018.
Simon McMenemy claimed the coach of the year award in a tight contest, having steered unfancied Bhayangkara FC to the Indonesian Liga 1 crown, narrowly beating Totchtawan Sripan (Muangthong), Aidil (Home United), Ong (Malaysia under-23) and Kazuaki Yoshinaga (Albirex Niigata) for that honour.
Rising Star was probably the closest contest, with Malaysian starlet Safawi Rasid shading Kevin Deeromram, Akhyar Rashid, Jakkit Wechpirom and Nguyen Quang Hai.
Four-time defending Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim and quadruple trophy winners Albirex Niigata were unlucky to miss out on the best club honour, but the nature of Buriram’s victory in the region’s best league gave them the nod.
Finally we also asked FourFourTwo readers to vote for their 'Fan Favourite' of the year, giving people an option of 10 high performers from 2017.
From more than 8,200 votes cast, Indonesia and Persija goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa came out on top with 1,991 votes, finishing narrowly ahead of Malaysia's Safiq Rahim (1,920 votes) and Vietnam's Nguyen Van Quyet (1,769).