By Gabriel Tan
Since joining the competition back in 2004, the White Swans have steadily improved and are now regarded as one of the best sides in Singapore's top flight.
Under Sugiyama, they had their best-ever season last year when they finished fourth in the league and emerged champions of the League Cup, which was their first-ever piece of silverware.
Nonetheless, Albirex have now gone one better after Sunday's draw was enough to see them overtake Harimau Muda and seal a top-three finish, and Sugiyama was unable to hide his delight at the final whistle.
"Firstly, I would like to say thank you to all that have supported us and the S.League," he said.
"My players had a very tough season but we have created history by finishing third and I'm very happy."
The White Swans' hopes of getting the desired result did take a blow in the 76th minute when winger Mastake Sato was sent off for a second bookable offence, and Sugiyama admitted from they played for a point from then on.
"We controlled the game for 70 minutes," the ex-Urawa Reds defender added. "But then Masatake was sent off and we had to change our plan.
"After that, we were looking for a draw and our players did a good job in reacting to the change. Had we played the full game with 11 men, I think we would have won."
Gombak coach K. Balagumaran admitted it was hard to motivate his players for the final game of the year, especially after the high of finishing third in the RHB Singapore Cup following last Sunday's 4-0 win over Loyola Meralco Sparks.
"After what we achieved in the Singapore Cup, it was difficult to play a high-tempo game today [Sunday]," he conceded.
"Even if I wanted to push the boys, it would have been difficult as some of them don't know if they'll still be here next year."
Nonetheless, Balagumaran, who was in his first season as a head coach in the top flight, is happy with what he's achieved with his focus on youth development, even though the Bulls finished lower than where they were in 2011.
"We might not have been as good as we were last year; we finished 6th last year but are 9th this season," he added. "But we have produced many young players that have been getting international recognition.
"Clubs are looking at following our example and more people are taking notice of Gombak, and I think that's a good thing that we're becoming more popular."
Balagumaran has spent much of this year keeping his faith in youth, and has produced several of the league's most exciting youngsters in Nurullah Hussein, Ahmad Suhaimi, Iqbal Hussain and Samuel Benjamin.