FFT’S S.League XI of 2017: Who makes the cut?
Goalkeeper: Yosuke Nozawa (Albirex Niigata)
There is no other man more suitable to take the spot in between the sticks
Nozawa is not just has a safe pair of hands, but exudes confidence behind the back four with his superb reading of situations.
More often than not this season, fans would be used to the sight of him coming out to claim a cross confidently or successfully closing the angle of a striker bearing down on his goal.
With 12 clean sheets and just 14 goals conceded in 22 appearances, there is no other man more suitable to take the spot in between the sticks.
Defender: Irfan Fandi (Home United)
It is a testament to a player’s quality when he is able to excel in a different position from which he is used to.
Having started off as a forward in his younger days, the strapping Irfan is now shining as a centre-back – putting his physique to good use by outmuscling opposition forwards, as well as showing the ability to bring the ball out from the back.
Half (two) of Home’s four league defeats had come without the presence of the 20-year-old, showcasing his importance to the team.
Did we mention he has four league goals along with his stellar performances?
Defender: Yasutaka Yanagi (Albirex Niigata)
At the heart of our three-man backline has to be this 23-year-old, who played an integral part in Albirex’s watertight defence.
The 1.87m defender has an air of maturity despite his relatively young age, dealing with anything that came his way – be it in the air or on the ground – with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency.
It is perhaps telling that the White Swans’ only two losses came when he was not on the field.
He was dismissed on 65 minutes when his side was a goal down to Home, with the Protectors eventually sealing a 2-0 win, before missing the subsequent 2-1 defeat to Hougang United due to suspension.
Defender: Naofumi Tanaka (Albirex Niigata)
Different season, same class. That is the best way to describe the 24-year-old, who managed to retain his excellence after an outstanding 2016 season that saw him nominated for the Young Player of the Year.
Tanaka is the league’s highest-scoring defender with five goals and stood out this season for his overlapping runs from left-back.
What perhaps goes under the radar is that he does not shirk his defensive responsibilities, often tracking back to cover for his teammates.
Incredibly he has not missed a league game over the past two seasons – super fit indeed…