Singapore Premier League • September 5, 2022
2022 Singapore Premier League Matchweek 23: Roundup
Hazzuwan Halim (R) flicks the ball in for Geylang International, 4 September 2022
SINGAPORE, 5 SEPTEMBER 2022 – The AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) title race took yet another twist as leaders Lion City Sailors suffered a shock defeat to bogey team Geylang International, while Albirex Niigata (S) took full advantage by coming from behind to beat Balestier Khalsa and draw level at the top. With 51 points each and five matches left, the Sailors have a fight on their hands to keep their crown. Meanwhile, Tampines Rovers are now in the driving seat to finish third after an emphatic win over Young Lions, while Hougang United and Tanjong Pagar United played out an entertaining draw. We recap all the action below…
Tanaka hits four again
Balestier 3-5 Albirex | Toa Payoh | 2 September
Shuhei Hoshino 31′, 54′, Kuraba Kondo 56′ | Kodai Tanaka 49′, 62′, 75′, pen. 85′, Masaya Idetsu 81′
In a topsy-turvy game, Hoshino fired a stunner in off the bar to put Balestier ahead before Tanaka nodded in Idetsu’s deep cross to level. Hoshino then converted a rebound before turning provider to tee up Kondo in what seemed like it could be a winning debut for Peter de Roo. But the White Swans came roaring back through Tanaka, who headed in Idetsu’s free-kick before benefitting from some slack Balestier defending to complete his hat-trick. A gorgeous free-kick from Idetsu then completed the comeback before Tanaka added gloss from the spot. Ryoya Taniguchi blazed a penalty over late on in a forgettable end to the night for the home side.
- Albirex extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.
- This is the first time Albirex have won this season after trailing at half-time – they had drawn one and lost one previously.
- Tanaka struck four goals in one match for a second time this season, both against Balestier – with 28 goals, he is now Albirex’s leading scorer in a single campaign, eclipsing Tsubasa Sano (26 in 2017).
- Fourteen of Tanaka’s 28 goals this season have come via headers.
- Tanaka, along with Boris Kopitović, has scored the most goals in a league season since Mislav Karoglan scored 33 for Singapore Armed Forces FC in 2011.
- Four of Idetsu’s five goals this season have come via free-kicks – a joint-most tally in the league with Kopitović.
- Hoshino scored his 16th goal of the season; he is the first player to break the 15-goal mark in a season for Balestier since Miroslav Krištić scored 16 in 2015.
- Taniguchi assisted Hoshino for an eighth time this season, the most between any two players in the league.
- Taniguchi is the second player to put a penalty off target this season.
Balestier: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Darren Teh, Madhu Mohana, Ensar Brunčević (Aarish Kumar 90’+3), Aidil Johari, Gareth Low (Daniel Goh 79’), Ho Wai Loon, Ammirul Emmran, Ryoya Taniguchi, Kuraba Kondo, Shuhei Hoshino (C).
Unused subs: Suffian Abdullah (GK), Hariysh Krishnakumar, Asshukrie Wahid, Puvan Raj, Syukri Noorhaizam, Ignatius Ang, Ryan Praveen.
Albirex: Takahiro Koga (GK), Jun Kobayashi (C), Reo Kunimoto, Daichi Omori, Masaya Idetsu, Kumpei Kakuta, Kan Kobayashi, Masahiro Sugita, Tadanari Lee, Ilhan Fandi (Kanato Fukazawa 86’), Kodai Tanaka.
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Tatsuya Sambongi, Keito Hariya, Mahiro Takahashi, Tsubasa Kawanishi, Nicky Melvin Singh, Shota Ochiai.
Stags cruise to victory
Young Lions 0-7 Tampines | Jalan Besar | 3 September
Kyoga Nakamura 24′, Yasir Hanapi 48′, Zehrudin Mehmedović 55′, Boris Kopitović 63′, 66′, Taufik Suparno 65′, Amir Mirza 81′
Nakamura fired Tampines ahead from a tight angle but the floodgates only opened after the break. Yasir doubled the lead from the edge of the box before super-sub Mehmedović converted a rebound. Kopitović capitalised on some poor defending to make it 4-0 and set up Taufik for a simple finish, before the latter returned the favour for the visitors’ sixth of the night. Amir then came off the bench to score his first professional goal and complete a resounding victory.
- Young Lions have lost their last six matches and conceded in each of their last 58 outings.
- Tampines picked up three straight wins for the first time since March 2020.
- Kopitović scored two and assisted four goals in this match – he is now level with Tanaka on 28 goals at the top of the scoring charts.
- Kopitović has now smashed the record of most goals scored in a single season for Tampines – previously 26, achieved by both Mirko Grabovac in 2005 and Aleksandar Duric in 2011.
- Kopitović is the third player to make four assists in one match this season, following Masaya Idetsu and Maxime Lestienne.
- Kopitović is the second player to hit double digits in both goals and assists (11) this season after Lestienne.
- Kopitović scored his eight brace of the season; no other player has more.
- Nakamura has now surpassed his 2021 tally of three goals.
- Taufik scored his 25th career league goal.
- Amir scored his first-ever SPL goal.
- Tampines’ Caelan Cheong made his SPL debut – at 16 years and 224 days, he is the seventh-youngest ever debutant in league history.
- Young Lions’ Syed Adel made his SPL debut.
Young Lions: Ridhwan Fikri (GK), Jordan Emaviwe, Syed Akmal, Syahrul Sazali, Danish Qayyum, Shah Shahiran (C), Jared Gallagher, Elijah Lim, Glenn Kweh (Syed Adel 85’), Abdul Rasaq (Harith Kanadi 65’), Nor Hakim.
Unused subs: Dylan Pereira (GK), Joel Chew.
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK) (Danial Iliya 77’), Irfan Najeeb, Ryaan Sanizal (Caelan Cheong 77’), Shuya Yamashita, Irwan Shah, Kyoga Nakamura, Iman Hakim (Zehrudin Mehmedović 46’), Syed Firdaus Hassan, Taufik Suparno (Ong Yu En 69’), Yasir Hanapi (C) (Amir Mirza 69’), Boris Kopitović.
Unused subs: Shameer Aziq, Amirul Haikal, Firdaus Kasman, Andrew Aw.
Yet another draw
Hougang 3-3 Tanjong Pagar | Hougang | 3 September
Shawal Anuar 8′, 40′, Pedro Bortoluzo 90′ | Daniel Bennett 25′, Shodai Nishikawa 30′, Reo Nishiguchi pen. 31′
Shawal hooked Hougang ahead early on with an inventive finish, but Tanjong Pagar responded strongly as Bennett ghosted in to head home Raihan Rahman’s deep free-kick. Nishikawa then fired home from close range before earning a penalty that Nishiguchi coolly converted to put the Jaguars 3-1 ahead, but Shawal found himself at the right place at the right time to reduce arrears as half-time approached. Just when the visitors thought they had done enough, Bortulozo turned in Kristijan Krajček’s inswinging corner in the final minute to salvage the point.
- All four encounters between both sides in 2022 ended in score draws – in fact, five out of the last seven encounters were draws.
- Hougang have conceded in each of their last 10 matches since a 4-0 win over the Young Lions in July.
- Bortoluzo also netted a late equaliser in the previous encounter at Hougang, which ended 1-1 in May.
- Hougang have scored 12 times after the 80th minute this season, joint-most with Albirex.
- Shawal equalled his best-ever season tally of 10, first achieved in 2017 with Geylang. He is three goals away from reaching 50 career league goals.
- Half of Shawal’s goals have come from his right foot, the other half with his left.
- Nishikawa scored his fourth goal of the season – surpassing his best-ever season tally of three, achieved in 2021.
- Nishiguchi scored his 20th goal of the season; he became the fourth player to reach the 20-goal mark this season (together with Kopitović, Tanaka, Kim Shin-wook), making it the first time since at least four players have done so in a single league campaign since 2014, where five players did (Rodrigo Tosi – 24 for Brunei DPMM, Kazuki Sakomoto – 21 for Albirex Niigata (S), Geison Moura – 21 for Hougang United, Nicolás Vélez – 21 for Warriors FC, Goran Ljubojević – 20 for Balestier Khalsa)
- Faritz made his first assist since July 2019, when he was at Home United and assisted a goal for Hami Syahin in a 3-2 win over Geylang International.
- At 44 years and 239 days old, Bennett become the oldest-ever scorer in the league – eclipsing Duric, who was 43 years and 284 days old when he scored for Tampines Rovers in May 2014 against the Young Lions.
Hougang: Mukundan Maran (GK), Nazrul Nazari (Muhaimin Suhaimi 62’), Anders Aplin, Lionel Tan (Afiq Noor 8’), Farhan Zulkifli, Fabian Kwok (C) André Moritz 72’), Kristijan Krajček, Shawal Anuar, Sahil Suhaimi (Nazhiim Harman 72’), Amy Recha (Shahril Ishak 72’), Pedro Bortoluzo.
Unused subs: Zainol Gulam (GK), Shahfiq Ghani, Faiz Salleh, Amir Zalani.
Tanjong Pagar: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Daniel Bennett, Raihan Rahman, Faritz Hameed (C), Aqhari Abdullah, Blake Ricciuto, Rusyaidi Salime, Fathullah Rahmat (Khairul Amri 46’), Shodai Nishikawa, Mirko Šugić, Reo Nishiguchi.
Unused subs: Veer Karan Sobti (GK), Fashah Iskandar (GK), Shahrin Saberin, Faizal Raffi, Emmeric Ong, Syukri Bashir, Naufal Ilham, Ryan Syaffiq.
Eagles stun Sailors again
Sailors 1-3 Geylang | Jalan Besar | 4 September
Maxime Lestienne 8′ | Vincent Bezecourt 12′, 36′, Hazzuwan Halim 43′
It had looked like the Sailors were on their way to four wins in as many matches under Luka Lalić after Lestienne benefitted from Kim Shin-wook’s unselfish lay-off to put them ahead, but Geylang came roaring back. First, Bezecourt swept home after some untidy Sailors defending before netting a second via Ilhan Noor’s deflected cross. Yet another deflected delivery – this time by Bezecourt – led to super-sub Hazzuwan flicking past Hassan Sunny for a lead that the Sailors just could not claw back despite piling on the pressure in the second half.
- Two of the Sailors’ four defeats this season have come against Geylang – the Eagles have taken a total of seven points off the champions in 2022, joint-most with Albirex.
- Geylang have now won eight and lost just once out of their last 12 SPL matches.
- This is the first time the Sailors have lost more than one home game in a season since their 2020 inception.
- The Sailors have now lost thrice and drawn once in the four matches this season where they trailed at half-time.
- Lestienne has netted in each of his last five outings.
- Bezecourt equalled his best-ever season tally of eight goals, first achieved in 2016 with New York Red Bulls II in USA’s USL Championship.
Sailors: Hassan Sunny (GK), Hafiz Nor, Hariss Harun (C), Pedro Henrique (Amirul Adli 62’), Nur Adam Abdullah, M. Anumanthan, Shahdan Sulaiman (Saifullah Akbar 73’), Faris Ramli, Hami Syahin (Gabriel Quak 46’), Maxime Lestienne, Kim Shin-wook.
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Diego Lopes, Iqram Rifqi, Naqiuddin Eunos, Haiqal Pashia, Bill Mamadou.
Geylang: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Ilhan Noor, Rio Sakuma, Faizal Roslan, Ahmad Syahir, Joshua Pereira, Huzaifah Aziz, Takahiro Tezuka, Umar Akhbar (Fareez Farhan 90’+4), Vincent Bezecourt, Šime Žužul (Hazzuwan Halim 39’).
Unused subs: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Hafiz Ahmad (GK), Muhd Noor Ariff, Khairul Hairie, Qayyum Raishyan.