Who will be S-League's Coach of the Year?

Who will be S-League's Coach of the Year?

He has described football coaches as being "overrated", insisting players are the only ones who really matter in a team.

It will be interesting to see Darren Stewart's reaction if he wins the Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League's Coach of the Year award on Sunday.

The Balestier Khalsa coach led the Tigers to their first piece of silverware since the 1996 inception of the S-League, when they lifted the StarHub League Cup in September.

He also guided the club to their best showing in the S-League, finishing fourth this season despite having almost the same squad as the one that finished sixth last year.

Stewart, affectionately known as "Daz" to his players and friends, has his critics.

They claim the 47-year-old Australian builds a physical team who set out to batter opponents into submission.

Stewart makes no apologies, and has no qualms describing the route-one tactic his team employ at times as being "ugly".

But Stewart's Balestier can play eye-catching football, too, as demonstrated when they thumped Brunei DPMM 4-0 in the League Cup final.

Tigers captain Paul Cunningham says his coach's man-management skills are his greatest asset.

Said Cunningham: "There is a reason we players play for him... He doesn't demand respect, he shows it.

"And in return players respect him... go to war for him and play with added determination and passion.

"He knows every one of his players 100 per cent - he knows who he has to put his arm around or be harsh with."

As ever, Stewart insisted the Coach of the Year award would not be a reflection of his own ability as a coach.

"Coaches don't win Coach of the Year awards, the players win it for them," he said.

"If I do win it, I'd have to break the trophy into 20 pieces and give a piece each to my players."


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