News Singapore Premier League • March 12, 2021
2021 Singapore Premier League Round 1: Preview
SINGAPORE, 12 MARCH 2021 – The 26th edition of the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) gets underway this weekend with four fixtures! Lion City Sailors and Tampines Rovers face off in a mouthwatering clash between last season’s top two local teams, while a rejigged Hougang United side face a tough visit to defending champions Albirex Niigata (S). Elsewhere, a new-look Tanjong Pagar United side are looking to make a statement away against Geylang International, while Young Lions take on Balestier Khalsa in a battle of the underdogs. ALL LIVE on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!
Clash of the titans
Lion City Sailors vs Tampines Rovers | 13 Mar | 5.30pm | Jalan Besar | Singtel Ch 111, Starhub Ch 201
Team news: The Sailors have a fully fit squad to call upon, including Croatian marksman Stipe Plazibat, who is raring to go after missing last season’s run-in due to a hamstring injury. He should be joined by Faris Ramli in the attacking third, who is looking to make his Sailors debut alongside the likes of Nur Adam Abdullah and Amirul Adli.
The same goes for Tampines bar veteran centre-back Daniel Bennett, who could miss out due to a minor problem. Montenegrin attacker Armin Bošnjak is in line to make his first Stags appearance along with Marc Ryan Tan, Iman Hakim and Amirul Haikal.
- Tampines are undefeated in the last seven encounters in all competitions since being defeated 3-1 by the Sailors’ predecessor Home United at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) in the second leg of the 2018 RHB Singapore Cup quarter-finals.
- Tampines’ last defeat in this fixture was back in September 2016 when Home won 1-0 at Bishan – Yasir Hanapi and Irwan Shah started for the Stags that night, while Song Uiyoung lined up on the opposite side and Faris Ramli came on a second-half substitute for the Protectors.
- Tampines have scored in the last nine encounters in all competitions since a 0-0 league draw at Jalan Besar in July 2018.
- Tampines have scored in their last 34 SPL matches – a run that stretches back to March 2019 when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Brunei DPMM.
- Tampines have won their season-opening games for the past two campaigns.
- Zehrudin Mehmedović netted in both league encounters against the Sailors last season.
- Adli could make his Sailors debut against his former club.
Cheetahs up against it in clash with champs
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Hougang United | 13 Mar | 5.30pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 112
Team news: Albirex are expected to be at full strength, with promising locals Nicky Melvin Singh and Fikri Junaidi in line to make their debuts for the White Swans.
As for Hougang, they will miss a trio of attackers in Sahil Suhaimi, Naufal Azman (both injured) and Khairul Nizam (suspension). New arrival Gilberto Fortunato could spearhead the attack, backed up by the likes of Shawal Anuar, Shahril Ishak and Tomoyuki Doi.
- Albirex won both encounters last season after a five-game win-less streak in all competitions prior to that.
- Hougang has not kept a clean sheet in the last 12 encounters in all competitions since a 0-0 draw at Hougang Stadium in the 2017 League Cup group stages. Current White Swan Fairoz Hasan came on as a second-half substitute for the Cheetahs that night.
- Hougang kept just one clean sheet in 17 competitive games last season.
- Albirex have lost just four out of their last 61 games at Jurong East, with Hougang responsible for two of those.
New-look Jaguars eye fresh start
Geylang International vs Tanjong Pagar United | 14 Mar | 5.30pm | Our Tampines Hub | Singtel Ch 111 | StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Geylang will miss creative midfielder Firdaus Kasman through suspension, while new foreign forwards Sylvano Comvalius and Matheus Moresche are unlikely to start. However, locals like Izzdin Shafiq, Iqram Rifqi and Faizal Roslan should be making their first appearances for the Eagles.
Meanwhile, Tanjong Pagar will miss veteran winger Ridhuan Muhammad through injury. The Jaguars fans will be salivating at the prospect of seeing new recruits like Blake Ricciuto, Reo Nishiguchi and Khairul Amri in action.
- Geylang are undefeated in the last eight encounters.
- Tanjong Pagar last defeated Geylang in March 2012 in a 1-0 victory at Queenstown. Current Jaguars fitness coach Hafiz Osman scored the winner, while Delwinder Singh and Geylang’s Amy Recha are the only ones still with their respective clubs.
- Tanjong Pagar are looking for their first win since defeating Harimau Muda B 5-0 in October 2014.
Battle of the underdogs
Young Lions vs Balestier Khalsa | 14 Mar | 5.30pm | Jalan Besar | Singtel Ch 112 | StarHub Ch 201
Team news: Young Lions will miss new signing Syabil Hisham due to suspension. However, they should be able to parade new arrivals in the likes of Syahrul Sazali, Joel Chew and Danish Qayyum.
As for Balestier Khalsa, experienced full-back Ahmad Syahir is suspended but Serbian centre-back Ensar Brunčević has recovered from an injury that kept him out of the last nine games of 2020. Amer Hakeem and Gautam Selvamany look set to make their debuts for the Tigers.
- Both sides also met on the opening week of the 2019 SPL season, with Balestier running out 4-1 winners.
- There has been a winner in the last nine encounters, with the last draw being a 0-0 in June 2017 at Jalan Besar.
- Young Lions did not keep a single clean sheet in 14 games last season.