League Cup 2016: FFT’S Team of the Tournament
However, the other seven participants were not too shabby themselves, with several players putting in impressive shifts throughout the tournament.
The writers at FourFourTwo were spoilt for choices to pick out 11 players who could form a formidable squad but eventually we managed to reach a decision and now we present the League Cup 2016 Team of the Tournament.
League Cup 2016 Team of the Tournament
Goalkeeper: Yosuke Nozawa (Albirex Niigata S)
Part of Albirex’s triumph have to be attributed to the excellence of the immaculate Nozawa in goal. It’s not just all about the numbers, although he is the only goalkeeper to end the tournament without conceding any goals.
The former J-League custodian did not have to do much, but came up big when needed - pulling off crucial stops to deny Billy Mehmet when they were 1-0 up in the semi-final against Tampines Rovers and Adi Said when it was still 0-0 in the final against Brunei DPMM.
Right Back: Jufri Taha (Tampines Rovers)
Previously a fringe player under now national coach V.Sundramoorthy, the 31-year-old has since started every game under Akbar Nawas – impressing with his ability to produce well-timed challenges and making good runs forward to support the attack.
Centre Back: Brian McLean (Brunei DPMM)
The 31-year-old Scotsman has not just been a calming influence at the back with his no-nonsense style of defending, but also has guided the inexperienced Yura Indera Putera to develop into a fine defender.
Centre Back: Kento Fujihara (Albirex Niigata S)
Albirex let in just one goal all tournament, with Fujihara very much in the thick of things by playing in every minute of their five matches.
The 24-year-old led the backline superbly in the absence of the injured Atsushi Shirota - winning duels both aerially and on the ground, before laying on an accurate pass for the midfielders to do the rest.
Left Back: Naofumi Tanaka (Albirex Niigata S)
A key component to Albirex’s success is their 3-5-2 formation that require wing-backs to romp up and down their channels.
Naofumi is one that thrives in this system, snuffing out the threats of opposition wingers with his superb reading of the game before galloping down the left flank to whip in a teasing ball for the forwards.
The White Swans’ only defeat in the tournament (a 1-0 reverse against Geylang International) came when Tanaka was not named in the starting eleven – enough said.