Singapore Premier League • February 24, 2023

2023 Singapore Premier League Matchweek 1: Preview


Albirex Niigata (S) and Hougang United in the 2023 SPL Community Shield, 19 February 2023


SINGAPORE, 24 FEBRUARY 2023 – The 28th edition of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) gets underway today with five fixtures lined up! Champions Albirex Niigata (S) begin their title defence against Young Lions while challenges Lion City Sailors will look for a good start against Tanjong Pagar United.


Elsewhere, the Eastern Derby at Our Tampines Hub is the standout clash of the round while Balestier Khalsa will be gunning to make an impression against Hougang United. The matchweek ends off with Geylang International taking on Young Lions on Tuesday night.


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Sailors gunning for good start
Lion City Sailors vs Tanjong Pagar United |
24 Feb | 7.45pm | Bishan Stadium | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202


Team news: Sailors have midfielder Adam Swandi (knee injury), Anaqi Ismit, Haiqal Pashia, Izwan Mahbud (knee injury) Pedro Henrique and Zulqarnaen Suzliman out. The good news is that a host of new signings, including last year’s SPL Player of The Year Kodai Tanaka, are set to make their debuts for the club.


Tanjong Pagar will be without captain Faritz Hameed. Team Official Noh Alam Shah will also be unavailable as he serves the first of his five match stadium ban.



  • Lion City Sailors are undefeated in their last three season openers – with two draws and one win.
  • The Sailors won all four matches against the Jaguars last season, scoring a whopping 22 goals while conceding just twice.
  • Diego Lopes is the only player to score in all four fixtures last season, scoring a total of seven goals.
  • The Jaguars made an average of 40 long passes per match last season – the most in the league.


Diego Lopes celebrates after scoring against Tanjong Pagar United, 9 April 2022


Holders get title defence underway
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Young Lions |
25 Feb | 6.00pm | Jurong East Stadium | Singtel Ch 112, StarHub Ch 201


Team news: Albirex will continue to miss Keito Komatsu and Zamani Zamri. Both players were not in the matchday squad for last Sunday’s SPL Community Shield.


New Young Lions signing Kan Kobayashi and Jared Gallagher will serve one-match bans due to card accumulations carried over from last season. This fixture may also come too soon for Jacob Mahler, Jordan Emaviwe, Kieran Teo, Raoul Suhaimi and Ryu Hardy who are all carrying knocks. The good news is that Jun Kobayashi is set to make his debut against his former side.



  • Since the 2018 season, Albirex have won all their opening week fixtures except in the 2019 and 2022 season.
  • Albirex have a 15 match winning streak against Young Lions stretching back to the 2018 season.
  • Albirex won all four matches against Young Lions last season, scoring 22 goals while conceding just twice.
  • Young Lions will be facing Albirex in their opening game of the season for the second consecutive year.


Eastern Derby rivalry resumes
Tampines Rovers vs Geylang International |
25 Feb | 6.00pm | Our Tampines Hub | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202


Team news: Tampines Rovers have a full squad to choose from, with new signings Faris Ramli, Glenn Kweh and Milos Zlatkovic all set to make their debuts.


Geylang will be without Ahmad Syahir, Faisal Shahril, Fadli Kamis and new signing Nazhiim Harman. On a positive note, the Eagles will be boosted by the return of Huzaifah Aziz from long-term injury while new signings Amirul Adli, Ridhwan Fikri and Yushi Yamaya are set for their club debuts.



  • The last time the Eastern Derby took place in the opening week was in 2018 when Tampines won 3-0.
  • Tampines Rovers won three of the four Eastern Derbies last season.
  • Boris Kopitovic scored in three of the four Eastern Derbies last season, netting five goals in total.
  • This fixture has ended goalless only once since the 2018 season.
  • The Eagles are on a four match unbeaten run – three draws and a win – since last season.


Boris Kopitovic celebrates after scoring against Geylang International, 2 April 2022


New-look Tigers hope to spring surprise
Balestier Khalsa vs Hougang United |
26 Feb | 6.00pm | Bishan Stadium | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202


Team news: New signing Mukundan Maran and youngster Lewis Lee are still recovering from injuries while Fabian Kwok is a doubt. The likes of Alen Kozar and Masahiro Sugita are set to make their debuts.


The Cheetahs will be missing Shahdan Sulaiman and Idraki Adnan while Umar Akhbar will serve a one-match ban due to card accumulations carried over from last season.



  • A total of 19 goals were scored across the four outings last season.
  • Balestier’s biggest win in the league since the 2018 season was in this fixture last August, when the Tigers won 6-1.
  • Balestier’s Shuhei Hoshino scored five goals in four outings against Hougang last season.
  • Hougang have only won once in their last three season openers.


Shuhei Hoshino against Hougang United, 5 April 2022


Mid-week fixture
Geylang International vs Young Lions |
28 Feb | 7.45pm | Our Tampines Hub| Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202



  • Geylang have won four of their last five home matches stretching from last season.
  • Young Lions stopped a six-match losing run and recorded their first win of the season against the Eagles last year when they won 4-1 in April.
  • Young Lions earned the most number of points from Geylang last season – one win and a draw.


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