Birthday boy Ilhan Fandi celebrates with three trophies at FAS Awards Night
Singapore forward Ilhan Fandi capped off his 20th birthday in some style after he clinched the Singapore Premier League (SPL) Young Player of the Year, Goal of the Year award and was named in the SPL Team of the Year at the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Awards Night on Tuesday, when his team swept the major awards.
Ilhan pipped fellow nominees – teammate Kodai Tanaka and Balestier Khalsa’s Japanese forward Ryoya Taniguchi – for the Young Player of the Year gong after he finished the season as the highest local goalscorer with 17 goals in 21 appearances. He started the season with Young Lions for whom he scored twice in three matches before netting 15 goals to help Albirex Niigata win the SPL title this year. He had joined the Japanese side in April on a contract till the end of the season.
Ilhan is the first of Fandi’s sons to win an individual honour. In 2018, Ikhsan – who now plays with Thailand’s BG Pathum – had also been nominated for the Young Player of the Year and Goal of the Year awards, but did not win in either category.
Ilhan can still add the Singapore Cup winner’s medal to his silverware haul this year. Albirex will contest the first leg of the Singapore Cup semi final on Friday against Hougang.
In the night’s main award, Albirex forward Kodai Tanaka, who scored 33 goals and provided 11 assists in 28 appearances in his side’s title-winning season, won the SPL Player of the Year. The other nominees were Lion City Sailors’ Maxime Lestienne and Tampines’ SPL Golden Boot winner Boris Kopitovic. Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga won the Coach of the Year award for a third time.
Although nominees had been announced only a day before the awards, the buzz was in the air among the 500 guests who had arrived at Orchard Hotel on Tuesday. This was after all the first time the annual event had been held in-person since 2019. Most held mini debates on who would take the night’s biggest honours while some shared their memories of the late FAS president Lim Kia Tong, who died aged 70 on Sept 14.
The night began in honour of Lim with a minute’s applause after a video montage was shown on screen.
Top performers of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) were also honoured on Tuesday. The WPL kicked off in May and marked the return of women’s football competition in Singapore, after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
Tanjong Pagar United’s Japanese veteran Manami Fukuzawa was named the WPL Player of the Year. The 31-year-old attacking midfielder scored eight goals in 12 matches to finish as the league’s second highest scorer. Her teammate Haziqah Haszman, who kept four clean sheets this year, won the league’s Young Player of the Year award.
Fukuzawa is already looking ahead to the next season and wants to get to double figures. She said:”I didn’t expect to win today but I’m very happy. I think I had an average season but I really wanted us to be champions. Next year, I want to win it all – the title, the Golden Boot, the Player of the Year and even the Goal of the Season.”