FFT’s 2017 S.League Christmas Wishlist

Christmas is just around the corner and just like last year, FourFourTwo is going to take a close look at the S.League clubs. Here you’ll find out what worked in 2016, how it’s looking for 2017 and what they need from Santa to ensure 2017 is an even better year…  

Albirex Niigata (S) 

Season 2016 Summary

S.League: Champions 

Singapore Cup: Champions 

League Cup: Champions 

What worked in 2016? 

Everything. From the opening-day Charity Shield victory against Brunei DPMM to completing a unique Quadruple feat by defeating Tampines Rovers in the final, the White Swans proved that they are the most complete team in the 21st season of the S.League. 

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How's it looking for 2017?

While they have lost head coach Naoki Naruo, top scorer Atsushi Kawata and classy sweeper Atsushi Shirota, they have managed to retain key players like goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa, Young Player of the Year nominee Naofumi Tanaka, midfield hard man Shuto Inaba and promising forward Hiroyoshi Kamata. 

New arrivals include new head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga, midfielder Yuki Yamanouchi from J.League 3 side Oita Trinita and defender Seiya Kato. 

What else do they need from Santa for 2017? 

Bar the goalkeeping department, they will need reinforcements in every other area if they want to retain the title.  

With Shirota leaving and Kento Fujihara's future uncertain, they will need a strong centre-back. With Masaya Jitozono leaving and the likes of Kento Nagasaki and Tatsuro Inui likely to depart, they will need to bring in a creative midfielder.

Most importantly, they will have to find the right replacement for Kawata, who accounted for 26% (13 out of 50) of their league goals last season. 

Balestier Khalsa

Season 2016 Summary

S.League: 8th  

Singapore Cup: Semi Finalists

League Cup: Group Stage 

What worked in 2016? 

Not much. The spine of the squad simply is not strong enough and it proved over the course of the season. The Tigers won just four out of 24 games, breaking the duck only after nine games. Just 23 goals scored meant they had the joint-worst attack along with bottom side Garena Young Lions (GYL). 

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 How's it looking for 2017? 

It looks like another season of upheaval, with all three foreigners Emir Lotinac, Miroslav Kristic and Niko Tokic leaving while locals like Ho Wai Loon, Fadhil Noh, Jamil Ali, Fazli Ayob and Fadli Kamis are all departing for greener pastures. 

The good news is that coach Marko Kraljevic is remaining in charge for a fourth year, while goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam, defenders Hanafi Salleh, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Ahmad Syahir and midfielder Shah Hirul are staying put. They have also brought in young centre-back Ashrul Syafeeq from GYL. 

What else do they need from Santa for 2017? 

With the backline looking pretty fine, the most burning area for them to address is in the attacking department.

A quality midfield playmaker is absolutely needed, possibly someone in the mould of Park Kang-Jin or Tarik Cmajcanin - who were their success stories in the 2014 and 2015 seasons respectively. 

They will also need to adequately replace the strike duo of Kristic and Tokic, who accounted for almost 40% (nine out of 23) of their goals last season. 

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