Singapore Premier League • August 25, 2022

2022 Singapore Premier League Matchweek 22: Preview

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Aqhari Abdullah of Tanjong Pagar United closes down an Albirex Niigata (S) opponent, 7 May 2022

 

SINGAPORE, 25 AUGUST 2022 – With just seven matches to play, the race for Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualification heats up with the teams from third to sixth separated by just four points. Hougang United will be aiming to seize control of that race when they host Lion City Sailors on Friday night to kick off Matchweek 22 of the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL). Then on Saturday evening, sixth-placed Geylang International will host Young Lions aiming to continue their mid-season revival, while fourth-placed Tanjong Pagar United try to arrest a slide of four straight defeats against title chasers Albirex Niigata (S). The weekend’s action will be rounded up by third-placed Tampines Rovers when they host second-from-bottom Balestier Khalsa on Sunday night. ALL LIVE on our YouTube channel and meWATCH!

 

READ: Matchweek 21 Roundup 

 

Tough test for free-flowing Sailors
Hougang United vs Lion City Sailors | 26 August | 7.45pm | Hougang | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 201

 

Team Form (last five league games):
Hougang United – LWDLW
Lion City Sailors – WLWWW

 

Team news: Midfielders Zulfahmi Arifin and Kaishu Yamazaki remain sidelined for the Cheetahs. Brazilian André Moritz is fit again after a long-term absence with a knee fracture, and key players Nazrul Nazari and Pedro Bortoluzo will return from suspension.

 

Sailors defenders Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Aniq Raushan are ruled out due to injury, as is forward Amiruldin Asraf;  interim coach Luka Lalić will welcome back defender Nur Adam Abdullah from suspension.

 

Facts

  • Hougang have a record of seven wins, draws and losses apiece after 21 league games played.
  • Hougang have only beaten the Sailors once in the eight times they have met; a 3-1 away victory in March 2021.
  • Since taking charge of the Sailors, interim coach Luka Lalić has presided over two emphatic victories – 10-1 against Young Lions and 7-0 against Tanjong Pagar.
  • Sailors forward Kim Shin-Wook has scored in four consecutive league games, his most consistent streak since joining the club this season.
  • Faris Ramli has made at least one assist in each of his last three matches, all as a substitute.
  • Each of Diego Lopes’ eight assists this season have been for a different team-mate – no other player has assisted more different team-mates in the league.
  • The Sailors are the only team to not have dropped points when leading at half-time, winning all 13 matches where they have done so.
  • The Sailors have scored nine goals from outside the box in open play, a league-best.
  • André Moritz has two goals in his only two appearances against the Sailors.
  • Hougang are the only team not to have conceded after the 90th minute this season.

 

Eagles aim to keep soaring
Geylang International vs Young Lions | 27 August | 5.30pm | Our Tampines Hub

 

Team Form (last five league games):
Geylang International – WWLDW
Young Lions – WLLLL

 

Team news: Defender Fadli Kamis (anterior cruciate ligament) remains ruled out for the Eagles, together with Umar Akhbar as he serves the last of his two-match suspension for a direct red card.

 

Captain Jacob Mahler remains a long-term absentee for Young Lions, while midfielder Amir Syafiz suffered an ankle sprain midweek and is a doubt. Defender Syed Akmal is also suspended for this match.

 

Facts

  • Both sides have won two games apiece in their last five meetings, apart from a 2-2 draw in Matchweek 12.
  • Geylang forward Šime Žužul is only one game away from equalling his personal record of scoring in nine consecutive league games; he has scored nine goals in his last eight appearances.
  • Žužul is the first player to reach the 14-goal mark for Geylang in one season since Jozef Kapláň did in 2013; he is one goal away from matching his best-ever tally in one season (15 last year for Balestier Khalsa) and from becoming the first player to reach 15 goals in a season for the club since Kapláň scored 16 in 2012.
  • With four assists for each other, Žužul and Vincent Bezecourt are the most productive pairing in the league this season.
  • The Eagles could move into the top half after winning six of their last ten games – they are chasing AFC Cup qualification after missing out on the 2020 edition, which was cancelled because of the pandemic.
  • Geylang have scored six penalty goals this season, the most in the league; the Young Lions have conceded five, also a league-most.
  • Young Lions only have seven points after 21 games; they are nine points worse off where they were at the same point last season.

 

White Swans face familiar foe
Tanjong Pagar United vs Albirex Niigata (S) | 27 August | 5.30pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 201

 

Team Form (last five league games):
Tanjong Pagar United – WLLLL
Albirex Niigata (S) – WDWDW

 

Team news: For Tanjong Pagar, Shakir Hamzah is ruled out as he continues his recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered last December. Striker Khairul Amri is also suspended for this fixture. Head coach Hasrin Jailani will return to the dugout for this clash, alongside goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad and Ryan Syaffiq, who have both recovered from injury. Defender Akram Azman and midfielder Blake Ricciuto are also available for selection, having served out their suspensions.

 

For Albirex, defender Shogo Toyomura is still ruled out and midfielder Hilman Norhisam is still regaining match fitness. The rest of the squad is fully fit.

 

Facts

  • Tanjong Pagar have won three of the last five meetings against Albirex – they have the league’s best head-to-head record against the Japanese outfit.
  • Albirex’s 2-1 victory in Matchweek 8 was the White Swans’ only victory against the Jaguars in the last five matches.
  • Reo Nishiguchi has six goals in his last five appearances against Albirex; the Jaguars forward has also scored in each of their three meetings this season.
  • Masaya Idetsu has 14 assists for Albirex and is chasing Sailors’ Maxime Lestienne (17), who tops the assist charts.
  • Albirex’s Kodai Tanaka has nine goals in his last five matches and is the league’s joint-top scorer with 24 goals.
  • Tanaka is two goals away from matching Tsubasa Sano’s club-record haul of 26 in a league season for Albirex.
  • Ilhan Fandi has now scored 14 times in 14 games this season – one goal away from becoming the first local player to hit 15 since Faris Ramli netted 16 in 2019.

 

Farewell for Akbar Nawas
Tampines Rovers vs Balestier Khalsa | 28 August | 5.30pm | Our Tampines Hub | Starhub Ch 202

 

Team Form (last five league games):
Tampines Rovers – LWWLW
Balestier Khalsa – LWLWL

 

Team news: Tampines are without long-term absentee Marc Ryan Tan. Christopher van Huizen and Ryaan Sanizal will both return from suspension, along with midfield maestro Zehrudin Mehmedović, who should be fit after being left out as a precaution in midweek. Assistant coach Mustafic Fahrudin has served out his three-game ban.

 

Balestier will welcome Japanese forward Shuhei Hoshino back from suspension, while Naufal Azman has been deemed fit for this clash. Delwinder Singh misses out through illness, while Amer Hakeem’s fitness will be assessed tomorrow.

 

Facts

  • This game will be Balestier head coach Akbar Nawas’ last game in charge for the Tigers; he has a 28.5 per cent win record after 21 matches.
  • Akbar will face his former club – he coached the Stags between 2016 and 2017 – before he takes on a new challenge at Thai second-tier side Udon Thani.
  • Tampines have only beaten Balestier once this season, in a 2-1 win in Matchweek 8; both other clashes have ended in score draws.
  • Balestier’s Shuhei Hoshino has scored in two of the Tigers’ three meetings with Tampines this season.
  • Tampines playmaker Zehrudin Mehmedović scored a brace in a 5-2 defeat in August 2021, which was the last time Balestier beat the Stags.
  • Boris Kopitović is two goals away from matching the club-record haul of 26 in a league season for Tampines, achieved by Mirko Grabovac and Aleksandar Duric in 2005 and 2011 respectively.
  • Tampines are the only team to not have scored inside the first 10 minutes of a match this season.
  • Tampines are the only team to not have lost a match where they have taken the lead, winning five and drawing twice; they have also won on four occasions when they have gone behind first, which is the most of any team as well.

 

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