News Singapore Premier League • September 8, 2021
2021 Singapore Premier League Round 18: Preview
Šime Žužul of Balestier Khalsa fends off Tanjong Pagar United’s Faritz Hameed, 4 April 2021.
SINGAPORE, 8 SEPTEMBER 2021 – The AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) returns this weekend with leaders Albirex Niigata (S) looking to pull eight points clear at the top when they host Geylang International on Saturday, before nearest challengers Lion City Sailors take on Young Lions the following evening. Elsewhere, big guns Hougang United and Tampines Rovers face off while Tanjong Pagar United will look to continue their recent upsurge in form against Balestier Khalsa. ALL LIVE on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!
White Swans out to go one step closer
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Geylang International | 11 September | 5.30pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 201
Team news: Albirex will miss young forward Nicky Melvin Singh for the rest of the season due to a torn hamstring, while veteran Fairoz Hasan is not fully fit yet. However, they could welcome top scorer Kiyoshiro Tsuboi back into the fold following his recovery from a serious knee injury.
For Geylang, the likes of Darren Teh, Iqram Rifqi and Elijah Lim are edging closer to a first-team return after returning to full training, while experienced goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam could make his Eagles debut.
- Albirex won by a single-goal margin in the last three meetings between the two sides.
- Albirex’s Takahiro Tezuka scored the match-winner in the last two encounters.
- Albirex have won the last five encounters since a 1-0 away defeat in July 2019.
- There has been a winner in the last 17 games in all competitions since a 2-2 draw in the 2016 RHB Singapore Cup quarter-finals.
- A win will see Albirex secure four straight victories for the first time this season.
- Geylang have conceded in their last 21 SPL matches – they are the only team along with Young Lions without a clean sheet this season, while Albirex have kept the most shutouts in 2021 with six – including in the last two games.
- A goal for Geylang’s Amy Recha will see him become the first Geylang player to score in five straight games since Shawal Anuar went on a seven-match run in 2017.
Stags look to rediscover winning feeling
Hougang United vs Tampines Rovers | 11 September | 5.30pm | Hougang | Singtel Ch 112, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Hougang will continue to miss Maksat Dzhakybaliev and Idraki Adnan due to long-term injuries.
As for Tampines, the versatile Irwan Shah is suspended due to his expulsion the last time out, but first-choice custodian Syazwan Buhari is set to return in goal after missing the last two games due to a foot injury. Defender Irfan Najeeb misses out with a knee injury while Huzaifah Aziz could feature after clearing his mandatory fitness test.
- Hougang have won three out of the last four encounters, including both meetings earlier this season.
- Hougang have yet to keep a clean sheet in the last 28 encounters in all competitions since a 2-0 league win at Hougang Stadium on May 19, 2011.
- A 3-2 loss to Hougang in May sparked an ongoing 11-match win-less run in all competitions (five in the league) for Tampines.
- Anything less than three points will see Tampines go six league games without a win for the first time since May 2019.
- Tampines are yet to beat any of their fellow top four sides this season, tallying two draws and four defeats.
- Tampines have scored in each of their last 50 SPL matches.
- Hougang’s Tomoyuki Doi has scored five times in his last three appearances against Tampines; Tampines’ Boris Kopitović has scored in each of his last three outings against Hougang.
- Hougang’s Izwan Mahbud will face Tampines for the first time since leaving the Stags in end-2017 – his last career meeting against them was back in October 2011 in Young Lions’ 4-1 loss at the old Tampines Stadium.
Jaguars hoping to close in on top four
Balestier Khalsa vs Tanjong Pagar United | 12 September | 5.30pm | Toa Payoh | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 201
Team news: Balestier welcome back several first-team regulars for this with Serbian defensive lynchpin Ensar Brunčević and experienced full-back Ahmad Syahir returning from suspension, while Iqbal Hussain and Puvan Raj have also recovered from injury.
Meanwhile Tanjong Pagar will miss key defender Delwinder Singh due to a broken toe while veteran winger Ridhuan Muhammad is not expected to be ready until late September.
- Two of the last three meetings ended in 2-2 draws.
- Balestier are undefeated in the last eight encounters since a 3-1 loss in February 2013.
- Tanjong Pagar kept just one clean sheet in 17 games this season, while Balestier kept two in the same number of matches – with one of them coming against the Jaguars.
- Balestier’s Šime Žužul has netted three goals in his last two appearances against Tanjong Pagar.
Title-chasing Sailors face tricky test
Young Lions vs Lion City Sailors | 12 September | 5.30pm | Jalan Besar | Singtel Ch 112, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: For the Young Lions, Hami Syahin is ruled out for the season due to ankle surgery while effervescent right-back Ryhan Stewart is suspended due to an accumulation of four yellows. However key defender Danish Irfan is now fit again while new signings Jordan Emaviwe and Shah Shahiran could be handed their debuts.
As for the Sailors, they have a largely-fit squad to call upon with Adam Swandi ready to return for selection after recovering from a hamstring injury.
- The Sailors have won all four encounters since their inception in 2020.
- The Sailors are now on a club-record 13-match unbeaten run, while Young Lions have won three out of their last five matches.
- The Sailors have scored in their last 28 SPL matches, while the Young Lions have conceded in their last 32.
- Young Lions last kept a clean sheet in September 2019 when they beat Home United 3-0 at Bishan.
- Sailors’ Hariss Harun’s only career outing against Young Lions to date came in May 2017 when he won 2-1 with Home at Jalan Besar.