News Singapore Premier League • August 23, 2021
2021 Singapore Premier League Round 16: Preview
Shuhei Hoshino of Balestier Khalsa battles Baihakki Khaizan of Tampines Rovers during their SPL encounter, 17 March 2021.
SINGAPORE, 23 AUGUST 2021 – This round’s AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) action begins on Thursday with title aspirants Tampines Rovers looking to bounce back against out-of-sorts Balestier Khalsa. On the following day, the Lion City Sailors have a chance to go top temporarily when they visit Tanjong Pagar United while Hougang United target a return to form against Geylang International in a concurrent fixture. Sunday will see leaders Albirex Niigata (S) looking to either reclaim or extend their lead at the top away at Young Lions. After the weekend, there is an Eastern derby in store on Wednesday. ALL LIVE on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!
READ: 2021 SPL Round 15 Roundup
Note: The preview for the fifth match between Geylang International and Tampines Rovers on 25 August was added on 23 August.
Stags target return to winning ways
Balestier Khalsa vs Tampines Rovers | 19 August | 7.45pm | Toa Payoh | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Balestier have a myriad of problems, starting with the contract termination of captain and long-serving custodian Zaiful Nizam. The goalkeeper, who has been at the club since 2013 and made over 200 appearances, was initially suspended pending an internal disciplinary inquiry after refusing to play during their last match against the Young Lions. Subsequently, the club decided on Wednesday to terminate Zaiful’s contract with “immediate effect”. Meanwhile, Serbian defensive lynchpin Ensar Brunčević (second of a three-match ban) and prolific winger Hazzuwan Halim are suspended for card troubles. In addition, mid-season arrival Iqbal Hussain is also out with a knee injury. The Tigers can at least call on the services of Faizal Raffi and Ahmad Syahir, with both back from the treatment table.
For Tampines, experienced centre-back Madhu Mohana is a doubt due to injury while mid-season signing Huzaifah Aziz will also not feature as he is yet to clear the mandatory fitness test.
- Balestier are yet to beat Tampines in the last 16 league encounters since a 4-3 victory at Toa Payoh back in November 2015.
- Balestier last kept a clean sheet against Tampines in a 3-0 win during the 2017 League Cup group stages.
- Tampines have scored in each of their last 47 SPL matches.
- Anything less than three points will see Balestier go an 11-match winless streak for the first time since not winning in 14 matches between April to September 2017.
- Boris Kopitović has scored in each of his four outings against Balestier since arriving in the SPL in 2020, with five goals in total.
- Balestier’s Šime Žužul has the opportunity to score in nine straight league games; the last player with a longer streak was Stipe Plazibat – 11 in 2017.
Cheetahs aim to stop rot
Hougang United vs Geylang International | 20 August | 7.45pm | Hougang | Singtel Ch 112, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: The problems continue to pile up for Hougang, with Kyrgyzstani centre-back Maksat Dzhakybaliev ruled out for the rest of the season along with Idraki Adnan due to a meniscus injury while defensive partner Anders Aplin will serve a one-match suspension. Brazilian front man Gilberto Fortunato, who has missed the last two matches, is also not back to full fitness yet.
In contrast, Geylang’s treatment room is now starting to clear up with only Darren Teh and Iqram Rifqi the only notable ones out of action. Young defender Ilhan Noor will return after being rested the last time out.
Club news: Geylang – Eagles hope to turn the corner against the Cheetahs
- Hougang won the first two encounters in 2021 after a five-match win-less streak against the Eagles in all competitions previously.
- Geylang have scored at least a goal in the last nine encounters in all competitions.
- Hougang lost three out of their last four matches after being defeated just twice in their first 11 games of the season.
- Geylang have conceded in their last 18 matches since defeating Hougang 2-0 at OTH in November 2020.
- Hougang’s Tomoyuki Doi netted braces in his last two outings against Geylang; in fact, he has scored in each of his four meetings against the Eagles since his arriva in 2020.
- Geylang’s Amy Recha has scored in his last three appearances against Hougang, including the first two encounters earlier this season. He has scored in four out of his last five encounters against the Cheetahs in all competitions.
Jaguars out to claim another scalp
Tanjong Pagar United vs Lion City Sailors | 20 August | 7.45pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 201
Team news: Bar Ridhuan Muhammad (injury) and Anaqi Ismit (ineligible to play against parent club), Tanjong Pagar have a largely-fit squad to call upon, with key centre-back Shahrin Saberin back for selection after missing the 4-2 win over Geylang due to a personal issue.
It is a similar situation for the Sailors, with only Adam Swandi the notable absentee. Brazilian star man Diego Lopes is set for a return to action after recovering from a minor injury that saw him being rested against Tampines, while compatriot Jorge Fellipe is also available again after serving a one-match ban. The versatile Tajeli Salamat is also fit to play despite being stretchered off the last time out.
- Tanjong Pagar have yet to defeat the Sailors in four meetings since the latter’s inception in 2020.
- Tanjong Pagar won three out of their last four matches after only one victory in their first 11 games this season – in fact, since being defeated 3-1 by the Sailors in May, they only lost once in their last six.
- The Sailors on a club-record 11-match unbeaten run, while having scored in their last 26 SPL matches.
- Tanjong Pagar kept just one clean sheet in 15 games this season, while the Sailors have kept four in 14 – the joint-best defence along with Albirex.
- Sailors’ Hariss Harun has not won in his two career meetings with Tanjong Pagar in 2011 – one loss and one draw when he was with Young Lions.
Young Lions hope to spring surprise
Young Lions vs Albirex Niigata (S) | 22 August | 5.30pm | Jalan Besar | Singtel Ch 112, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Young Lions will have to contend without Hami Syahin for the rest of the season due to an ankle surgery while Danish Irfan is not back to full fitness yet, but the good news is that creative midfielder Joel Chew is fit to play despite coming off with a knock the last time out.
As for Albirex, they will miss a trio of forwards in Kiyoshiro Tsuboi, Fumiya Suzuki and Fairoz Hasan, with the latter nursing an ankle injury sustained in last Friday’s 4-1 win over Hougang. However, young forward Nicky Melvin Singh is fit to feature despite coming off early in that match.
- Albirex have won the last 16 encounters since a 1-0 defeat at Jurong East in November 2015.
- Young Lions have a chance to win two straight games for the first time since April 2018.
- Young Lions have conceded in each of their last 30 SPL matches, while Albirex has conceded in their last eight.
Wounded sides looking to bounce back in Eastern Derby
Geylang International vs Tampines Rovers | 25 August | 7.45pm | Our Tampines Hub | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Geylang will miss captain and defensive lynchpin Yuki Ichikawa for this as he is suspended due to an accumulation of a fourth yellow card. Young midfielder Elijah Lim is also unavailable as he is recovering from a heel problem. The duo of Darren Teh and Iqram Rifqi remains ruled out for at least the next couple of games.
As for Tampines, the most notable absentee will be Zehrudin Mehmedović, with the influential Serbian midfielder serving a one-match ban for chalking up four yellows. Experienced centre-back Madhu Mohana is also unlikely to feature after missing the last two games due to a quadriceps injury.
Club news: Geylang – Eagles brace for a big week ahead at home
- Tampines won 3-2 the last time both sides met back in April.
- Geylang have won just one out of the last 12 encounters in all competitions in a 2-1 win at Jalan Besar in August 2019.
- There have been no goal-less draws in the last 34 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.
- Tampines have scored in each of their last 48 SPL matches, while Geylang have conceded in each of their last 19.
- Geylang lost on the previous occasion which Ichikawa was unavailable this season in a 2-1 loss to Balestier back in April.
- Anything less than three points will see Tampines go four SPL games without a win for the first time since 2019 when they went six games without victory between March and May.
- A loss will see Tampines lose four straight league games for the first time since May 1998.