News Singapore Premier League • October 8, 2021
2021 Singapore Premier League Final Day Preview: Sailors look to usurp Albirex for first league crown
Shahdan Sulaiman of the Lion City Sailors and Ryoya Taniguchi from Albirex Niigata (S) will each hope to prevail on the final day.
SINGAPORE, 7 OCTOBER 2021 – All good things have to come to an end, they say, and the 26th season of Singapore’s only professional football league concludes this Sunday, 10 October.
After eight months of battle, only two teams remain in the title equation – the Lion City Sailors and Albirex Niigata (S).
With both sides level on points after 20 rounds, the Sailors go into this final day in the driving seat due to a superior goal difference (+35) over the White Swans (+31). If the title ends up being decided on goal difference, it will be for the first time since 1998 when Singapore Armed Forces FC held off the challenge of Tanjong Pagar United. The third tie-breaker after points and goal difference is number of goals scored, with the Sailors having nine more currently.
Will it be Keiji Shigetomi’s men retaining the trophy, or will the Sailors keep their cool to win their first-ever AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) title?
Elsewhere, Geylang International face Tampines Rovers in the Eastern Derby still with hopes of finishing fifth, while Hougang United and the Young Lions duel in a dead rubber.
Sailors look to complete successful voyage
Lion City Sailors vs Balestier Khalsa | 10 October | 5.30pm | Jalan Besar | Singtel Ch 111
Team news: The Sailors have to do without injured duo Jorge Fellipe and Stipe Plazibat as they look to navigate to their first title.
As for the Tigers, they will have to navigate without a few key players – Croatian playmaker Kristijan Krajček is still not fit, while goalkeeper Riki Kimura and left-back Ho Wai Loon are ineligible to face their parent club. They can at least call upon the services of Amer Hakeem, with the young centre-back returning from suspension for their third match in eight days.
- The Sailors are unbeaten against Balestier in four encounters; their last match finished 1-1 back in August.
- Balestier have won three out of their last five matches, but are yet to win away from home in 10 games this season – their last victory on the road came back in December 2020 in a 2-1 win at Hougang United.
- The Sailors are on a club-record 17-game unbeaten streak and have scored in their last 32 league matches – the longest current streak in the SPL.
- Both sides also met on the final day of last season, with the Sailors triumphing 5-2 at Bishan.
White Swans to keep going
Tanjong Pagar United vs Albirex Niigata (S) | 10 October | 5.30pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 113
Team news: Tanjong Pagar will continue to miss experienced centre-back Delwinder Singh through injury while top scorer Luiz Junior has already returned to Brazil. However, captain Faritz Hameed is now back from a one-match ban to boost their defensive options.
Meanwhile Albirex do not have any fresh injury concerns apart from long-term victims Nicky Melvin Singh and Fumiya Suzuki.
- Albirex’s only defeat this season came at the hands of Tanjong Pagar in a 2-1 loss back in August – the Jaguars’ first-ever league victory over the White Swans after 18 attempts.
- Tanjong Pagar have conceded in each of their last 14 matches – they kept only one clean sheet in 20 games this season.
- Albirex failed to score in only two out of 20 games in 2021 – they have also kept a clean sheet in four out of their last five matches.
Eagles aim to finish on high
Tampines Rovers vs Geylang International | 10 October | 5.30pm | Our Tampines Hub
Team news: Tampines are still without the injured Irfan Najeeb, while foreign duo Armin Bošnjak and Zehrudin Mehmedović have returned home. However, they should be able to call upon the services of Ryaan Sanizal, with the young centre-back recovering from an ankle injury that led to him missing the last two matches.
As for Geylang, they have a largely-fit squad to call upon with Afiq Yunos and Izzdin Shafiq likely to return for selection after missing the 3-0 win over Balestier a week ago.
- Both sides have won one encounter each this season, with the most recent one being Geylang’s 3-1 victory in August.
- There have been at least four goals scored in each of the two meetings in 2021.
- There have been no goal-less draws in the last 35 meetings in all competitions since a stalemate at Jalan Besar in July 2010; current Tampines captain Yasir Hanapi came on as a second-half substitute for the Eagles in that game.
- Anything less than three points for Geylang will see them finish amongst the bottom two for the first time since 2018.
Pride on the line
Hougang United vs Young Lions | 10 October | 5.30pm | Hougang
Team news: Hougang will be without Nazrul Nazari, who is still recovering from a knock that led to him missing the 3-2 midweek defeat to Balestier. Young winger Kishson Philip could be back in the mix after being left out for that game.
For the Young Lions, Hami Syahin and Ilhan Fandi continue to be absent as they recuperate from surgery. However, they will welcome back Shah Shahiran from suspension while the likes of Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Rezza Rezky, Arshad Shamim and Danish Irfan are also ready for selection after missing the 2-1 defeat to Tanjong Pagar two weeks ago.
- Both sides’ positions will not change regardless of the result of this game – Hougang have already equalled their best-ever finish of third in 2019, while the Young Lions are already consigned to finish bottom for the first time since 2017.
- Young Lions are win-less in the last five encounters since a 1-0 win at Jalan Besar in July 2019.
- There have been no goal-less draws in the last 40 meetings in all competitions since a stalemate at Jalan Besar in February 2008.
- Young Lions have conceded in each of their last 35 SPL matches since September 2019, while Hougang failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six since defeating Young Lions 1-0 back in August.
- A brace for Tomoyuki Doi will see him become the first Hougang player to score 21 goals since Geison Moura did in 2014.
- Hougang’s Izwan Mahbud has not conceded in each of his last four SPL games against Young Lions.