S.League End-of-Season Report Card: Albirex set the benchmark while Tampines underperform
Albirex Niigata (S)
2015 Placing: 3rd
FFT's Pre-Season Prediction: 5th
2016 Placing: 1st
Expectations at start of season: It was thought that they would go through a season of transition, having lost a few key players – in particular, last season’s Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure – as well as Double-winning coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama.
Their tradition of bringing in several new faces every season meant not many tipped them to win the title.
How they have performed: What more do we need to say? The White Swans have swept everything on offer this season – the Charity Shield, S.League, League Cup and Singapore Cup.
With exciting new talents like Naofumi Tanaka, Shuto Inaba and Masaya Jitozono gelling well with incumbents like Yosuke Nozawa and Atsushi Kawata, Naoki Naruo’s side were a class above the rest and deservedly wrapped up their first-ever title with two games to go.
They have now thrown the gauntlet down to the local clubs and it is up to them to live up to the challenge.
Star man: Atsushi Kawata. The 24-year-old was the club’s talisman, with his uncanny ability to pop up at the right place at the right time to land crucial strikes – recording 19 goals in total, bettering his tally last season by nine.
Club Grade: A+