A Triple Meet
The annual clubs' dinner would include Grilled International for the first time, and while there was no silverware on show - with both the Birds and the Bunnies having just fallen short - there was undeniably a faint air of optimism going about the venue.
With the proceedings taking place in order of seniority, as per tradition, there was a minor surprise as Vietnamese fullback Hoàng Trung Quá
was named as Grilled's Player of the Season, ahead of top scorer Cyril Künzler
. Then again, this was perhaps not as much of an upset as it might have appeared, with Hoàng's eight goals and overall impeccable citizenship an impressive package on its own.
Head coach Djan Bacelar
revealed that it was very close-run. "Cyril was a lock-on after his arrival, but Hoàng just kept on going. In fact, we were seriously considering having them share the award. In the end, though, the committee made a very hard choice."
Künzler certainly was a good sport about it, and the duo embraced before a visibly-excited Hoàng jogged up the stage. "We're all working for the betterment of the club here, and I'm very happy for him." the Polish winger said. "I'm honoured to be mentioned, and hopefully it'll drive me to greater heights."
There was no competition in the youth category, as Chan Ze Han won by acclamation. The 16 year-old has been described as a generational prodigy by an increasingly large portion of the local footballing fraternity for some time now, and his unbelievably mature gameplay has done nothing to disabuse that notion; it is a barely-hidden secret that Grilled are currently engaged in negotiations to lock him down for the foreseeable future.
Indeed, it has been noted more than once that the only person who can halt his progress is Chan himself, though if the respectful lad who presented himself was any indication, there's little danger of that happening.
Swiss goalkeeper Vivian Grubenmann
was the Bunnies' pick, although in fairness any of the ever-reliable Enzo Paolo Panzarino
, last season's winner Vishnu Tallapaka
, or Algerian supersub Abderahim Bentellis
could have made it. Panzarino's glaring misses late in the season likely didn't help his cause, though, Tallapaka hadn't quite raised his level, and Bentellis, while scintillating, hadn't recorded all that many minutes.
Another goalie got the nod too for the Young Player gong, with Syamsul Bahri Hamiz Izzaq having evidently benefitted from Grubenmann's mentorship. Honourable mentions went to midfielder Abhishek Ramisetty and centreback Hayden Clemence, who is currently on the market for a senior job.
"And actually, we have a lot of very good defenders rising up the ranks." Rancher Rabbits head Yip De Da noted. "If I had to finish naming names, it'd take far too long, so I'll just encourage all the guys to outdo themselves."
Positives might have been harder to come about for Grilled International after a rocky maiden campaign, but they found a bright spot in attacker Hesky Atmanegara
, who has swung between wide right and a central role with considerable effect. Hungarian playmaker László Kammer
distinguished himself amongst the U-20s, edging out club top scorer Abdul Hamid bin Hj Ali Timbang
and local defender Subhi bin Hj Ahmad
for the plaudits.