News Singapore Premier League • March 15, 2021
2021 Singapore Premier League Round 1: Roundup
Tanjong Pagar United’s Reo Nishiguchi is challenged by Geylang International’s Izzdin Shafiq, 14 March 2021
SINGAPORE, 15 MARCH 2021 – The 26th season of domestic football kicked off in style with 19 goals across four fixtures. Two-goal comebacks provide the theme of the week with Tampines Rovers and Young Lions each doing so, while champions Albirex Niigata (S) and ambitious Geylang International lead the standings. We recap all the action below…
Battle of titans live up to billing
Sailors 3-3 Tampines | Jalan Besar | 13 March
Song Uiyoung 5’, Gabriel Quak 6’, 57’ | Madhu Mohana 19’, Yasir Hanapi 63’, 67’
Star signing Diego Lopes failed to feature, but the hosts made a barnstorming start nonetheless. Song expertly finished off Haiqal Pashia’s low cross, before 2020 Player of the Year Quak slalomed 20 yards and cracked a sizzling shot in from the edge of the area. Centre-back Madhu’s instinctive left-footed effort halved the deficit when the Sailors failed to clear their lines from a corner, but Quak restored the advantage soon after the break by finishing off another slick team move. However, the Stags refused to cower. Captain Yasir flummoxed Tajeli Salamat before lashing home and then enjoyed a stroke of fortune when his cross panicked the Sailors backline and sneaked into the bottom right corner.
- Sailors are yet to defeat Tampines in their three meetings to date.
- Tampines were last involved in a 3-3 draw on the opening week of the season in 2016. Yasir scored a second-half equaliser to salvage a point.
- Tampines came from two goals down to avoid defeat for the first time since May 2019 when they drew 3-3 against Hougang.
- Sailors let slip a two-goal lead to concede points for the first time.
- Tampines have now scored in their last 35 SPL matches.
- This is the first time two Singaporeans scored braces in the same game since Geylang and Hougang played out a 4-4 draw in September 2019 – Shahfiq Ghani and Faris Ramli netted a brace each for the Cheetahs, while Fareez Farhan struck a hat-trick for the Eagles.
- Quak scored his first brace for Sailors – also his first brace since July 2019 in Warriors FC’s 3-3 draw against Brunei DPMM.
- Yasir scored his first brace since June 2018 in a 3-1 win over Young Lions; he failed to score in 2020 as well.
- Pashia notched his first ever assist for the Sailors.
- Syazwan Buhari conceded thrice for the first time since the Stags’ 4-3 win over Warriors in the 2019 Singapore Cup final at the same venue.
Sailors: Hassan Sunny (GK)(C), Naqiuddin Eunos, Tajeli Salamat, Amirul Adli, Nur Adam Abdullah, Shahdan Sulaiman, Song Uiyoung (Adam Swandi 68’), Saifullah Akbar, Gabriel Quak (Hafiz Nor 87’), Stipe Plazibat, Haiqal Pashia (Faris Ramli 46’).
Unused subs: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Abdil Qaiyyim, Aqhari Abdullah, Justin Hui.
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Irfan Najeeb, Madhu Mohana, Baihakki Khaizan, Irwan Shah (Amirul Haikal 81’), Kyoga Nakamura, Shah Shahiran, Yasir Hanapi (C) (Taufik Suparno 76’), Zehrudin Mehmedović, Marc Ryan Tan (Boris Kopitovic 54’), Armin Bošnjak.
Unused subs: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Ryaan Sanizal, Daniel Bennett, Fazrul Nawaz.
White Swans start title defence with victory
Albirex 3-1 Hougang | Jurong East | 13 March
Kiyoshiro Tsuboi 25’, 86’, Takahiro Tezuka 39’ | Jarrel Ong 42’
Different season, same old Albirex. The reigning champions overcame a tricky test against Hougang United, who had old boys Kaishu Yamazaki and Tomoyuki Doi. A blunder from Ridhuan Barudin gifted them the lead as Tsuboi’s 30-yard free-kick squirmed through his hands and over the line. Centre-back Tezuka headed in Kosuke Chiku’s corner, though Hougang reduced arrears just before the break through debutant Ong’s stunner from the edge of the box. However, the White Swans sealed victory late on when captain Kazuki Hashioka put in a teasing cross that Tsuboi glanced in to cap off a memorable debut.
- Albirex have now won the last three encounters after a five-match winless streak in all competitions prior.
- Seven out of the 11 starters were making their debuts for the White Swans, including young Singaporean Nicky Melvin Singh.
- Tsuboi is the first player to score a brace on his Albirex debut since Shoichiro Sakamoto in a 2-1 win over Tampines in February 2017.
- Jarrel is the second Ong to score on his first professional start at Jurong East since Albirex’s Yu En in November 2020.
- Farhan has an assist after one game; he did not manage any in 13 appearances in 2020.
- Ridhuan failed to keep a clean sheet for a ninth consecutive game; his last was a 0-0 draw against Tanjong Pagar in November 2020.
- Maksat Dzhakybaliev completed a full game for Hougang for the first time on his eighth appearance.
- This is only the fifth time where Doi has failed to score in a SPL match; last season, he scored in 10 out of 14 matches.
Albirex: Takahiro Koga (GK), Kazuki Hashioka (C), Takahiro Tezuka, Shuya Yamashita, Yu Tokiwa, Kosuke Chiku, Ryoya Taniguchi, Nicky Melvin Singh (Mahiro Takahashi 76’), Fairoz Hasan (Yasuhiro Hanada 46’), Kiyoshiro Tsuboi, Ryosuke Nagasawa (Makoto Ito 79’)
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Fikri Junaidi, Reo Kunimoto, Kohga Tsuruhara.
Hougang: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Faiz Salleh (C), Maksat Dzhakybaliev, Lionel Tan, Hafiz Sujad, Kaishu Yamazaki, Shahril Ishak, Idraki Adnan (Shawal Anuar 46’), Jarrel Ong (Gilberto Fortunato 46’), Farhan Zulkifli (Fabian Kwok 90’), Tomoyuki Doi.
Unused subs: Mukundan Maran (GK), Anders Aplin, Afiq Noor, Shahfiq Ghani.
Eagles soar through samba magic
Geylang 2-1 Tanjong Pagar | Our Tampines Hub | 14 March
Matheus Moresche pen. 19’, 74’ | Blake Ricciuto 21’
Star signing Sylvano Comvalius was not ready but fellow new boy Matheus Moresche certainly was. The 22-year-old Brazilian only came off the bench due to Barry Maguire’s early injury, but wasted little time in making an impact. He earned a penalty and dispatched it, before adding a second 16 minutes from time through an unerring low finish. That rendered Ricciuto’s swift equaliser moot as the Eagles bagged all three points.
- Moresche is the first Geylang player to net a brace on his debut since Ashrin Shariff in a 3-1 win over Albirex in February 2009.
- His brace made him the fifth player (Gabriel Quak, Yasir Hanapi, Kiyoshiro Tsuboi and Shuhei Hoshino) to score a double in the opening round.
- Geylang are now undefeated in the last nine encounters since a 1-0 loss in March 2012.
- Tanjong Pagar are still waiting for their first win since defeating Harimau Muda B 5-0 in October 2014.
- Tanjong Pagar’s Rusyaidi Salime made his first SPL appearance since October 2018 in Young Lions’ 3-1 defeat to DPMM.
- Tanjong Pagar’s Naufal Ilham made his professional debut.
Geylang: Zainol Gulam (GK), Darren Teh, Faizal Roslan, Yuki Ichikawa (C), Harith Kanadi (Adam Hakeem 80’), Elijah Lim, Izzdin Shafiq, Barry Maguire (Matheus Moresche 11’), Amy Recha, Zikos Chua (Fareez Farhan 60’), Christopher Van Huizen.
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Ilhan Noor, Azri Suhaili, Kieran Teo.
Tanjong Pagar: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Shahrin Saberin, Delwinder Singh, Faritz Hameed (C), Naufal Ilham (Ammirul Emmran 52’), Rusyaidi Salime, Blake Ricciuto, Shodai Nishikawa, Luiz Junior, Reo Nishiguchi, Hadiputradila Saswadimata (Khairul Amri 52’).
Unused subs: Joey Sim (GK), Emmeric Ong, Shahib Masnawi, Raihan Rahman, Suhairi Sabri.
Young Lions show courage in stunning fightback
Young Lions 3-3 Balestier | Jalan Besar | 14 March
Ilhan Fandi 13’, Khairin Nadim 58’, Hami Syahin 84’ | Hazzuwan Halim pen. 34’, Shuhei Hoshino 45’, 50’
A second consecutive two-goal fight-back in a six-goal thriller took place at Jalan Besar on the opening weekend, this time starring the Young Lions. Ilhan converted Zamani Zamri’s cross to open the scoring but Balestier hit back through Hazzuwan’s penalty and Hoshino’s delightful curler. The Japanese then combined again with Šime Žužul, who set him up to thrash in a dipping strike from range. However, the Young Lions never gave up and Khairin adroitly pounced on an error to score their second. Philippe Aw’s boys then grabbed a deserved late equaliser late through substitute Hami, whose first touch was to head in Ilhan’s flick-on from a long throw.
- Young Lions came from two goals down to avoid defeat for the first time since November 2015 when they did so against Geylang.
- Balestier let slip a two-goal lead to concede points for the first time since August 2019 when they lost 4-3 to Hougang.
- Young Lions scored three from five attempts, while Balestier had 19 attempts.
- This is the first draw between both sides in ten encounters since a 0-0 draw in June 2017.
- Ilhan was also on target in last season’s opening game for Young Lions – a 4-1 loss to Hougang.
- Hoshino netted his first brace since July 2018, in Albirex’s 2-1 defeat of Tampines.
- Young Lions’ Amir Syafiz and Balestier’s Aidil Johari and Aqil Yazid made their professional debuts.
- At 16 years and 266 days, Amir became the seventh-youngest ever player to start an SPL match.
- Aw managed his first SPL game since June 2018 when he was in charge of Hougang in a 2-0 loss to Tampines.
Young Lions: Ridhwan Fikri (GK), Ryhan Stewart, Syed Akmal, Danish Irfan (C), Syahrul Sazali, Harhys Stewart, Amir Syafiz, Zamani Zamri (Daniel Goh 68’), Joel Chew (Danish Qayyum 79’), Khairin Nadim (Hami Syahin 83’), Ilhan Fandi.
Unused subs: Nurshafiq Zaini (GK), Nazhiim Harman, Sahffee Jubpre, Raoul Suhaimi.
Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Amer Hakeem (Aqil Yazid 78’), Ensar Brunčević, Aidil Johari (Gautam Selvamany 46’), Aarish Kumar (Faizal Raffi 70’), Gareth Low, Hazzuwan Halim, Kristijan Krajček, Šime Žužul, Shuhei Hoshino.
Unused subs: Riki Kimura (GK), Hariysh Krishnakumar, Aravindhan Ramanathan, Joshua De Souza.