Singapore Premier League • February 28, 2022
2022 Singapore Premier League Matchweek 1: Roundup
Tampines Rovers’ Zehrudin Mehmedović (left) closes down Balestier Khalsa’s Ensar Brunčević, 26 February 2022
SINGAPORE, 28 FEBRUARY 2022 – The 27th edition of the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) kicked off in style last Friday with Tanjong Pagar United delivering the standout result by upsetting title aspirants Albirex Niigata (S) on opening day. A determined Balestier Khalsa side came from two goals down to hold Tampines Rovers, while champions Lion City Sailors overcame Hougang United to top the standings. We recap all the action below…
Jaguars deliver opening-day shock
Albirex 0-2 Tanjong Pagar | Jurong East | 25 February
Reo Nishiguchi 1’, 10’
Faritz Hameed eyes the ball, 25 February 2022
With a spate of COVID-19 cases limiting them to just 16 players, Tanjong Pagar pulled off the ultimate upset. Just 47 seconds in, Nishiguchi produced a stunning chest-and-swivel to finish off Mirko Šugić’s lofted ball. The same two combined again for a classy lob by the Japanese minutes later and the Jaguars showed great defensive grit thereafter to grind out a stunning result.
- Tanjong Pagar are now undefeated in their last three encounters against Albirex – with two wins and a draw.
- This is the first time Tanjong Pagar won an opening game since 2014, while Albirex lost an opening fixture for the first time since 2019.
- Albirex conceded two goals in the first 10 minutes for the first time since June 2014 in a 4-3 RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final first-leg defeat to Brunei DPMM.
- Tanjong Pagar kept their first clean sheet in 16 games since a 4-0 win over the Young Lions in April 2021.
- Albirex’s Kazuaki Yoshinaga tasted defeat for the first time in 36 SPL matches– his last defeat came in July 2017.
- Nishiguchi has now scored four goals in his last three appearances against Albirex – this is also his first ever SPL brace.
- Šugić is the first player to make two assists on his SPL debut since Billy Mehmet for Tampines in a 3-3 draw with Geylang International in February 2016.
- Tanjong Pagar’s Zharfan Rohaizad kept his first clean sheet in 18 SPL matches – he last kept a shutout in Young Lions’ 1-0 win over Balestier in July 2019.
- Tanjong Pagar’s Syukri Bashir played his first SPL game since May 2019, where he came on a second-half substitute in the Young Lions’ 4-0 loss to Tampines.
- Albirex’s Hilman Norhisam made his first SPL start, while Tanjong Pagar’s Azim Akbar made his professional debut.
Albirex: Takahiro Koga (GK), Tatsuya Sambongi (Fairoz Hasan 83’), Jun Kobayashi, Keito Hariya, Omori Daichi, Kakuta Kumpei, Kan Kobayashi (C), Masaya Idetsu, Hilman Norhisam (Kodai Tanaka 46’), Masahiro Sugita, Tadanari Lee.
Unused subs: Kai Yamamoto (GK), Mahiro Takahashi, Tsubasa Kawanishi, Shogo Toyomura, Yoshiki Matsuura, Kanato Fukazawa, Junki Yoshimura.
Tanjong Pagar: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Emmeric Ong, Fathullah Rahmat, Faritz Hameed (C), Shodai Nishikawa (Azim Akbar 90’+4), Rusyaidi Salime (Raihan Rahman 57’), Blake Ricciuto, Mirko Šugić, Aqhari Abdullah, Reo Nishiguchi, Syukri Bashir (Hadiputradila Saswadimata 66’).
Unused subs: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Ameer Fiqr (GK).
New-look Tigers showcase potential
Balestier 2-2 Tampines | Toa Payoh | 26 February
Shuhei Hoshino 47’, Ensar Brunčević 58’ | Boris Kopitović 36’, Taufik Suparno 45’+2
Tampines looked good for the three points after leading by two at the break courtesy of Kopitović’s curling finish in off the post and Taufik’s crisp header off Amirul Haikal’s cross. However, Akbar Nawas’ Balestier rallied in the second half to rescue an impressive point, first reducing the deficit via captain Hoshino’s header off Ryoya Taniguchi’s deft cross and then Brunčević lashing home a close-range finish after some chaos in the box.
- Tampines let slip a two-goal lead to draw for the first time since November 2020 – also against Balestier.
- Tampines have now won just one of their last 11 SPL games since May 2021.
- Kopitović has now scored six goals in as many outings against Balestier since his SPL arrival in 2020.
- Taufik scored at Toa Payoh for a second season running – he was on target in Tampines’ 2-1 win last March. He has scored three goals in his last five games – his best ever scoring run.
- Amirul made his first career assist.
- Balestier’s Ignatius Ang made his first SPL appearance since October 2020 when he started in Tanjong Pagar’s 2-1 defeat to the Young Lions – it is also his first for the Tigers since November 2015 in a 4-0 away defeat to DPMM.
- Balestier’s Gareth Low made his 50th domestic league appearance.
- Balestier’s Ryan Praveen made his professional debut.
- Firdaus Kasman played his first game for Tampines since November 2013 in a 3-1 league defeat to Albirex, while Christopher van Huizen also made his first appearance for the Stags since June 2016 in a 3-1 Singapore Cup quarter-final first leg win over Global FC.
Balestier: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Darren Teh, Ensar Brunčević, Aqil Yazid (Ammirul Emmran 46’), Delwinder Singh, Naufal Azman (Ryan Praveen 62’ (Keshav Kumar 90’+4)), Gareth Low, Ignatius Ang (Aidil Johari 46’), Ryoya Taniguchi, Kuraba Kondo, Shuhei Hoshino (C).
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Hariysh Krishnakumar, Aiman Zavyan, Iftiqar Parizan, N. Sakthivelchezhian.
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Christopher van Huizen, Shuya Yamashita, Ryaan Sanizal (Irfan Najeeb 87’), Amirul Haikal (Irwan Shah 46’), Ong Yu En (Firdaus Kasman 79’), Kyoga Nakamura, Zehrudin Mehmedović (Adam Reefdy 87’), Taufik Suparno (Syed Firdaus Hassan 68’), Yasir Hanapi (C), Boris Kopitović.
Unused subs: Danial Iliya (GK), Iman Hakim, Marc Ryan Tan, Ethan Pinto.
Business as usual for holders
Sailors 3-1 Hougang | Jalan Besar| 27 February
Kim Shin-wook 24’, Iqram Rifqi 67’, Diego Lopes 86’ | Pedro Bortoluzo 7’
Hougang took a shock lead through Bortoluzo’s unerring shot from the edge of the box, but the Sailors repeated the comeback trick from last week’s AIA Community Shield win over Albirex. South Korean marksman Kim was left unmarked to nod home Shahdan Sulaiman’s free kick, before roving left-back Iqram pushed forward to finish off Hafiz Nor’s cutback to put them ahead. Lopes then combined well with fellow substitute Maxime Lestienne to secure the points late on for the champions.
- Sailors won a season-opening game for the first time since their 2020 inception.
- The Sailors extended their club-record unbeaten run to 19 matches and have now netted in their last 34 SPL matches since March 2020.
- Hougang have now gone four SPL matches without a win for the first time since March 2019.
- Iqram scored his first goal since October 2019 in Home United’s 2-2 draw with Warriors FC in a Singapore Cup group-stage game. It is his first league goal since June 2018.
- Lestienne became the first Belgian to play in the SPL.
- Sailors’ Hami Syahin made his 100th domestic league appearance.
- Hougang’s Sahil Suhaimi made his first SPL start since October 2020 in the Cheetahs’ 2-1 win over Tampines, while Zulfahmi Arifin made his first SPL appearance since September 2019 in the Cheetahs’ 5-4 away defeat to DPMM.
Sailors: Hassan Sunny (GK), Tajeli Salamat (Naqiuddin Eunos 80’), Hariss Harun (C), Pedro Henrique, Iqram Rifqi (Maxime Lestienne 80’), M. Anumanthan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Song Uiyoung (Amirul Adli 80’), Hami Syahin (Hafiz Nor 43’), Saifullah Akbar (Diego Lopes 54’), Kim Shin-wook.
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Amiruldin Asraf, Glenn Ong, Anaqi Ismit.
Hougang: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Muhaimin Suhaimi (Afiq Noor 81’, Anders Aplin 89’), Kaishu Yamazaki, Nazhiim Harman, Nazrul Nazari (C), Kristijan Krajček, Shahfiq Ghani (André Moritz 46’), Shawal Anuar, Sahil Suhaimi (Zulfahmi Arifin 46’), Amy Recha (Amir Zalani 87’), Pedro Bortoluzo.
Unused subs: Mukundan Maran (GK), Aizil Yazid (GK), Lionel Tan, Shahril Ishak.