News Singapore Premier League • September 22, 2021
2021 Singapore Premier League Round 20: Preview
Ryoya Taniguchi has been an outstanding performer for Albirex Niigata (S) this season, 11 April 2021.
SINGAPORE, 22 SEPTEMBER 2021 – The AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) title race is heating up, with Albirex Niigata (S) leading nearest challengers Lion City Sailors by two points going into the last two rounds. The White Swans host Tampines Rovers on Friday, knowing that three points will leave them one win away from retaining their crown. As for the Sailors, they need the defending champions to drop points before their visit to Geylang International on Sunday. Meanwhile at the other end, bottom-placed Young Lions entertain Tanjong Pagar United on the same day as they try to avoid finishing bottom for the first time since 2017. ALL LIVE on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!
White Swans looking to close in
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Tampines Rovers | 24 September | 7.45pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 112, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Forwards Fumiya Suzuki and Nicky Melvin Singh remain unavailable for Albirex, who do not have any fresh injury concerns otherwise.
Tampines will welcome back Baihakki Khaizan and Yasir Hanapi from suspension. However, young defender Ryaan Sanizal is doubtful while Irfan Najeeb is already ruled out for the season.
- Albirex have won just one of the last five encounters – a 2-1 win at Jurong East back in April.
- Albirex have lost just once in 19 games this season, while Tampines have lost six out of their last eight matches.
- Albirex were the last team to stop Tampines from scoring in a 0-0 away draw in March 2019 – the Stags have scored in 53 straight SPL matches since.
- Albirex have scored in their last 16 league matches since a 0-0 home draw against Balestier back in March.
- Tampines have scored in their last four visits to Jurong East against Albirex.
- Tampines’ Boris Kopitović have scored in his last three outings against Albirex, tallying five goals in total.
- A point for Tampines will see them confirm fourth spot.
Young Lions hope to spring surprise
Young Lions vs Tanjong Pagar United | 26 September | 5.30pm | Jalan Besar | Singtel Ch 112
Team news: Teenage full-back Raoul Suhaimi and head coach Philippe Aw return from suspension but the Young Lions will miss key midfielder Shah Shahiran due to a one-match ban. Other absentees include Ilhan Fandi, Hami Syahin, Harhys Stewart, Danish Irfan (all injury) and Arshad Shamim (National Service commitments).
For Tanjong Pagar, the big miss will be captain Faritz Hameed, who will serve a one-match suspension while fellow defender Delwinder Singh remains on the sidelines due to a toe injury. The good news is that up to four first-teamers are now available again – Rusyaidi Salime and Blake Ricciuto are back from suspension, while Emmeric Ong and Anaqi Ismit have also recovered from illness.
- Tanjong Pagar are unbeaten against the Young Lions in two encounters this season after losing both meetings in 2020.
- There have been no goal-less draws in the last 15 encounters since a stalemate in March 2011 at Queenstown.
- Young Lions have conceded in each of their last 34 SPL matches, while Tanjong Pagar have done so in their last 13 – their one and only clean sheet in 19 outings this season came in a 4-0 win over Young Lions in April.
- Tanjong Pagar’s Luiz Junior has scored in all four career appearances against Young Lions till date, tallying a total of six goals.
- Faritz missed only one game this season prior to this – a 5-0 loss to Sailors back in March due to injury.
Sailors out to keep title hopes alive
Geylang International vs Lion City Sailors | 26 September | 5.30pm | Our Tampines Hub | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Geylang will have to contend without Iqram Rifqi and Faizal Roslan as the on-loan duo are ineligible to face their parent club.
As for the Sailors, they will continue to navigate without Brazilian defensive lynchpin Jorge Fellipe and Croatian hotshot Stipe Plazibat due to injuries.
Club news: Sailors – No room for complacency
- Geylang have lost the last 13 encounters since a 4-1 win over the Sailors’ predecessor Home United in October 2016 – current Sailor Gabriel Quak scored as a substitute for the Eagles, with Yuki Ichikawa and Amy Recha in their starting line-up while Aqhari Abdullah lined up for the opposite side.
- The Sailors have scored 17 goals in four encounters against the Eagles since their 2020 inception.
- The last time both sides met at OTH, Geylang lost 8-0 – their heaviest-ever defeat in league history.
- The Sailors are on a club-record 16-game unbeaten run, while Geylang lost four out of their last five.
- Geylang have conceded in each of their last 22 SPL matches, while the Sailors have netted in each of their last 31.
- Sailors’ Saifullah Akbar has netted in both encounters this season.
- Sailors’ Hariss Harun has lost just once out of his 10 career meetings against Geylang – a 1-0 loss for Young Lions in February 2010.
*Below updated on 30 September 2021
Eagles and Tigers aim to put recent troubles behind them
Geylang International vs Balestier Khalsa | 3 October | 5.30pm | Our Tampines Hub | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Geylang will miss the quartet of Nur Luqman Rahman, Harith Kanadi, Elijah Lim and Wayne Chew due to their recent National Service (NS) enlistments. The good news is that the trio of Abdil Qaiyyim, Faizal Roslan and Iqram Rifqi will return for selection after being ineligible to face the Lion City Sailors the last time out, while winger Christopher van Huizen is also back after serving his quarantine.
As for Balestier, they have a largely-fit squad to call upon with Iqbal Hussain ready to take to the field again after recovering from a knee injury that saw him miss the last four matches.
- Both sides have one win apiece from the two encounters this season – Balestier triumphed 2-1 at Toa Payoh in April, before Geylang won 3-1 at OTH in July.
- Geylang’s Amy Recha has scored in both encounters this season, tallying a total of three goals.
- The last goal-less draw between both sides was back in March 2016.
- Geylang have lost five out of their last six games, while Balestier won two of their last three.
- Geylang have conceded in their last 23 SPL matches since November 2020, while Balestier kept their first clean sheet in 14 matches the last time out.
- A loss for Geylang will all but confirm a seventh-place finish for the Eagles this season – the last time they finish second-from-bottom was in 2018 when they finished eighth out of nine teams.
- Geylang’s Zaiful Nizam will face Balestier for the first time since leaving the Tigers in mid-August – his last competitive appearance against them was back in July 2012 when he was part of the Gombak United team that won 1-0 at Jurong West.
*The below was added on 4 Oct
Inconsistent Tigers out to win final home game of campaign
Balestier Khalsa vs Hougang United | 6 October | 7.45pm | Toa Payoh | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 201
Team news: Balester will have to rejig their backline from Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Geylang, with Amer Hakeem suspended due to an accumulation of four yellow cards. It remains to be seen though, if Kristijan Krajček is fit enough to return for selection.
As for Hougang, they have a largely-fit squad to call upon apart from long-term injury victims Idraki Adnan and Maksat Dzhakybaliev. Key locals Lionel Tan and Afiq Noor will return from injury for this one.
- Hougang have won both encounters this season – a 1-0 win at Toa Payoh in April and a 4-3 win at home the following month.
- Balestier have not defeated Hougang in their last four meetings at Toa Payoh since a 4-1 win in August 2014.
- Hougang are unbeaten in their last four matches, while Balestier have lost three out of their last five.
- There have been no goal-less draws in the last 11 encounters since a stalemate at Toa Payoh in July 2017.
- Hougang are already assured of a third-placed finish regardless of their results in the last two matches.
- Balestier’s Šime Žužul has scored in three out of his last four outings against Hougang.