5 S.League players who exceeded expectations
It has to be said that Balestier Khalsa have had an almighty struggle this year as they finished seventh in the league - mostly down to the lack of a genuine front man.
While most of the attention pre-season was focused on the likes of former LionsXII midfielder Raihan Rahman and the Tigers' three Burmese imports, the unheralded Hazzuwan has emerged arguably as the club's best player this campaign.
Hazzuwan has netted close to 35 percent of the Tigers’ total goals this season
Tigers coach Marko Kraljevic tried a number of players up front but nothing quite clicked, until Hazzuwan Halim, a winger by trade, got his chance as a forward.
The 1.69m tall player, who had to sit out the majority of last season through injury, has eight goals to his name in all competitions this year. This statistic means that he has netted close to 35 percent of the Tigers’ total goals this season - highlighting his importance to the cause.
It remains to be seen if Hazzuwan will now receive offers from bigger clubs in the league but the 23-year-old has definitely proved his worth after a stellar season.
A call up to the national team is usually a good indication of how good a campaign you are having and Geylang International defender Anders Aplin almost did just that having trained with the provisional squad last month.
While Aplin did not make the final 25 ahead of a friendly against Qatar and the Asian Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan, he can take comfort in the fact that his performances have caught the eye of Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy.
Aplin has been a mainstay in the Geylang side all season, be it at the heart of defence or at full-back, with his sound tackling and technical ability on the ball helping him settle quickly into a side which lost a key figure in defence in the form of Daniel Bennett this season.
The Nanyang Technological University graduate was playing in the amateur National Football League before making his professional debut for Geylang just last year and as such, his rise to the fore has taken many by surprise this year.
It also has to be said that for Aplin’s rise in form this season, Japanese defender Yuki Ichikawa, who is regarded as one of the league’s better centre-backs, has marshalled the defence well with Aplin.
Another Geylang player who has exceeded all expectations this season is the rapid Eagles forward Shawal Anuar.
One of the few players who grew his reputation despite the national team’s losses to Bahrain and Lebanon this month, Shawal has been sensational for the Eagles this season, with the headgear-clad 26-year-old netting nine times in the league this season, finishing the campaign as top scorer for Geylang.
Besides his goals, Shawal has been a livewire with his tireless runs down the channels, often opening up spaces for the rest of his teammates.
Shawal’s rise has been all the more spectacular given that the former Sepak Takraw player only made his S.League debut just three years ago.
A bit part player then, Shawal is now the first name on the teamsheet these days and if the Eagles are looking to improve on a fourth-placed finish next season, they must build around their top scorer.