Faris Ramli is 1st Singaporean to win SPL Player of the Year since 2014

Singapore's Faris Ramli (right) dribbling past Selangor's Nicholas Ryan Swirad in the Sultan of Selangor Cup match at Shah Alam Stadium. (PHOTO: Zainal Yahya/Yahoo News Singapore)
Faris Ramli (right) at the Sultan of Selangor Cup match at Shah Alam Stadium. (FILE PHOTO: Zainal Yahya/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — After a four-year stranglehold by Japanese players from Albirex Niigata, the coveted Singapore Premier League (SPL) Player of the Year award went to a local footballer on Thursday (31 October).

Hougang United’s Faris Ramli took home the top honour, after he scored 16 goals in the league to help his club challenge the league title.

“I am really shocked that I won, but I feel blessed that all my hard work has paid off,” the 27-year-old winger said after the FAS Nite award ceremony at Orchard Hotel.

“I have mixed feelings as Hougang did not win any trophies but the club has helped me develop… We are going in the right direction and this trophy is for them as well. I have to keep improving and keep challenging myself as a player.”

Started 2019 without a club

Faris had started the year without a club, after he terminated his contract with Perlis FA less than a month after signing for the Malaysian Premier League club. However, Hougang made him a good offer, and his brilliant performances lifted the club – who finished bottom of the SPL in 2018 – to their best-ever third-place finish.

He edged out Brunei DPMM’s Belarus striker Andrei Varankou – SPL’s top scorer of the season with 21 goals – and Tampines Rovers captain Shahdan Sulaiman for the award.

It was also the first time since 2014 that the Player of the Year award went to a Singaporean, after Albirex’s Japanese players won from 2015 to 2018 as the club clinched three SPL league titles in a row. Goalkeeper Hassan Sunny had won in 2014 while playing for Warriors FC.

Home playmaker wins Young Player award

Home United’s 20-year-old playmaker Hami Syahin was named the Young Player of the Year, capping a stellar year in which he also made his international debut for the Lions against Yemen in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in September.

“Playing at Home United this year, I was pushed out of my comfort zone and that has helped me grow into a better player and human being. I will take this win as motivation to push harder and achieve greater things in life,” he said in a video message from Japan, where he is with the national Under-22 team in preparation for the upcoming SEA Games.

Adrian Pennock was named Coach of the Year after guiding Brunei DPMM to the SPL title this season, their second title after their 2015 triumph.

“I feel very humbled. Barely a year ago, I would not have thought that I would be standing here today but here I am, and this is a very special win as we’ve had a fantastic season,” the Englishman said.

Key award winners at FAS Nite 2019

Singapore Premier League – Player of the Year: Faris Ramli (Hougang) Young Player of the Year: Hami Syahin (Home) Coach of the Year: Adrian Pennock (DPMM) Goal of the Year: Barry Maguire (Geylang International) Top scorer: Andrei Varankou (DPMM) Fair Play Award: Albirex Niigata Singapore Referee of the Year: Farhad Mohamed Assistant Referee of the Year: Ong Chai Lee Story of the Year: Matthew Mohan (CNA) Photo of the Year: Chua Boon Ping (Junpiter Futbol).

SPL Team of the Year – Goalkeeper: Wardun Yussof (DPMM). Defenders: Charlie Clough (DPMM), Kaishu Yamazaki (Albirex Niigata), Irwan Shah (Tampines Rovers), Nazrul Nazari (Hougang). Midfielders: Blake Ricciuto (DPMM), Kyoga Nakamura (Albirex), Shahdan Sulaiman (Tampines). Forwards: Faris Ramli (Hougang), Shawal Anuar (Geylang), Andrei Varankou (DPMM).

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