Singapore Premier League • October 10, 2022
2022 Singapore Premier League Matchweek 26: Roundup
Albirex Niigata (S) celebrate with their supporters, 7 October 2022
SINGAPORE, 10 OCTOBER 2022 – The scintillating AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) title race was decided last Friday as Albirex Niigata (S) swept aside Lion City Sailors to confirm their fifth league triumph in seven years. The Sailors are assured of a second-place finish, while Tampines Rovers also sealed third spot with a convincing win over Hougang United and help from Geylang International, who held Tanjong Pagar United. Finally, bottom side Young Lions came from three goals down to deny Balestier Khalsa in a stirring comeback. We recap all the action below…
White Swans reclaim crown
Sailors 2-4 Albirex | Jalan Besar | 7 October
Kim Shin-wook 16′, Gabriel Quak pen. 84′ | Ilhan Fandi 5′, Kodai Tanaka 37′, 78′, 90’+3
After Ilhan’s stunning early volley was cancelled out by Kim’s cool finish off Adam Swandi’s lofted ball over the top, Albirex went back ahead with Ilhan teeing up Tanaka for a close-range finish before the latter did enough in a one-on-one with Hassan Sunny to make it 3-1. Quak grabbed a lifeline from the spot to give the Sailors a glimmer of hope, but the irresistible Tanaka capitalised on a breakaway to seal his hat-trick and confirm his side as 2022 SPL champions.
- Albirex are the first team in league history to win the title after losing their opening game of the season.
- Albirex have lost only one of their last 25 matches.
- The Sailors have yet to beat Albirex in the SPL since their 2020 inception, with a record of four draws and five losses.
- The Sailors lost four straight games for the first time in their history – they had never gone more than two games without a win prior to this season.
- Tanaka has netted a total of six goals in his last three outings against the Sailors.
- Tanaka scored his fifth hat-trick and is up to 31 goals for the season – he is the first player to breach the 30-goal mark in one campaign since Mislav Karoglan struck 33 for Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) FC in 2011.
- Fifteen of Tanaka’s goals have been headed ones; Kim is next-most with eight.
- Kim has netted five goals in five outings against Albirex in 2022, including the AIA Community Shield.
- Ilhan is the first Singaporean player to reach 16 goals in one season since Faris Ramli finished the 2019 season with 16 for Hougang United.
- All three of Ilhan’s assists this season have been for Tanaka.
- Kazuaki Yoshinaga won his third league title in as many seasons (2017, 2018, 2022), making him the head coach with the second-most Singaporean league titles, behind Richard Bok’s four with SAF FC.
Sailors: Hassan Sunny (GK), Hafiz Nor (Saifullah Akbar 73’), Bill Mamadou, Amirul Adli (C), Nur Adam Abdullah, Adam Swandi (M. Anumanthan 80’), Diego Lopes, Faris Ramli (Gabriel Quak 59’), Song Uiyoung, Maxime Lestienne, Kim Shin-wook.
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Shahdan Sulaiman, Iqram Rifqi, Hami Syahin, Haiqal Pashia, Aniq Raushan.
Albirex: Takahiro Koga (GK), Jun Kobayashi (C), Keito Hariya, Daichi Omori (Tatsuya Sambongi 18’), Masaya Idetsu, Kumpei Kakuta, Kan Kobayashi, Masahiro Sugita, Tadanari Lee (Reo Kunimoto 85’), Ilhan Fandi (Kanato Fukazawa 58’), Kodai Tanaka.
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Mahiro Takahashi, Nicky Melvin Singh, Zamani Zamri, Junki Yoshimura, Shakthi Vinayagavijayan.
Stags seal third
Hougang 1-4 Tampines | Hougang | 8 October
André Moritz 40′ | Taufik Suparno 14′, 18′, Boris Kopitović 42′, pen. 78′
Taufik grabbed an early brace – squeezing one in at the near post before reacting the quickest to Mukundan Maran’s parry off Kopitović’s penalty – to put Tampines two up. Playing the majority of the game with 10 men after Nazhiim Harman’s sending off, Hougang did well to pull one back through Moritz’s stunning volley off Kristijan Krajček’s cross. However, there was no stopping the Stags – Kopitović swivelled in the box to lash home before redeeming himself from the spot to complete a lethal brace and complete the Stags’ victory.
- Tampines are now unbeaten in their last six matches.
- Kopitović is now level on 31 goals with Albirex’s Tanaka in the race for the Golden Boot – this is the first time since the 2001 season where more than one player has crossed the 30-goal mark (Mirko Grabovac, 30 for SAF FC and Aleksandar Duric, 32 for Geylang United).
- Kopitović has scored in each of his last eight appearances against Hougang, tallying 13 goals.
- Kopitović scored his ninth brace of the season – most of any player in the league.
- Kopitović missed a penalty for the first time in the league, having converted eight prior attempts.
- Taufik has scored 11 goals this season – the first time he has broken the 10-goal mark in a single campaign.
- Tampines’ Kyoga Nakamura failed to complete 90 minutes for the first time in 61 league appearances since joining the Stags in 2020.
- Tampines remain the only team this season not to lose a match in which they have taken the lead, winning nine times and drawing twice.
Hougang: Mukundan Maran (GK), Nazrul Nazari (C), Anders Aplin, Nazhiim Harman, Faiz Salleh (Fabian Kwok 46’), Zulfahmi Arifin, André Moritz, Kristijan Krajček, Shawal Anuar (Sahil Suhaimi 86’), Amy Recha (Farhan Zulkifli 78’), Pedro Bortoluzo.
Unused subs: Aizil Yazid (GK), Zainol Gulam (GK), Shahfiq Ghani, Shahril Ishak, Ajay Robson.
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Irfan Najeeb, Ryaan Sanizal, Shuya Yamashita, Amirul Haikal, Kyoga Nakamura (Irwan Shah 84’), Syed Firdaus Hassan (Ong Yu En 46’), Firdaus Kasman (Zehrudin Mehmedović 64’), Yasir Hanapi (C) (Iman Hakim 84’), Taufik Suparno (Christopher van Huizen 74’), Boris Kopitović.
Unused subs: Danial Iliya (GK), Irwan Shah, Joel Chew, Ethan Pinto, Andrew Aw.
Red Card: Nazhiim Harman (Hougang) 16’
Young Lions show heart
Young Lions 4-4 Balestier | Jalan Besar | 8 October
Khairin Nadim 23′, Shah Shahiran pen. 56′, Elijah Lim 73′, Jordan Emaviwe pen. 90’+5 | Daniel Goh 4′, Shuhei Hoshino 6′, Ryoya Taniguchi 15′, Kuraba Kondo 41′
After Goh capitalised on some poor defending to thump home, Taniguchi whipped in a superb cross for Hoshino to nod in before netting a neat free-kick himself as Balestier raced into a three-goal lead within the first 15 minutes. Young Lions pulled one back through Khairin’s speculative shot, but the visitors restored their three-goal advantage through Kondo’s crisp grounder and looked to have put the game to bed. Incredibly, the home side rallied in the second half and Shah converted a penalty before Lim curled home a stunner from the edge of the box to reduce the deficit to 3-4. The comeback was on and completed deep into injury time with substitute Emaviwe firing home another spot-kick.
- A new record for the most number of unique scorers in one match in league history was set – eight. The previous most was seven, most recently when Hougang beat Balestier 4-3 in May 2021 (Kaishu Yamazaki 9′, Lionel Tan 29′, Idraki Adnan 36′, Hafiz Sujad 88′ | Šime Žužul 3′, Faizal Raffi 45′, Kristijan Krajček 72′).
- Young Lions came from three goals down to avoid defeat for the first time since 15 April 2004. (6-6 draw with SAFFC – Ballamodou Conde 21’, 38’, Jonathon Angelucci 42’, 45’, 80’, Ashrin Shariff 47’ – Itimi Dickson 26’, Agu Casmir 35’, 70’, Khairul Amri 87’, Syed Fadhil 89’, Nenad Bacina O.G. 90’).
- Young Lions ended a run of eight straight defeats.
- Young Lions have now conceded in each of their last 61 outings.
- Taniguchi assisted Hoshino for a ninth time this season.
- Goh scored in successive games for the first time in his career – two of his four professional goals have come against the Young Lions, the other two against the Sailors.
- Khairin scored his first SPL goal since August 2021 in Young Lions’ 4-2 win over Balestier.
- Lim scored his first ever professional goal.
Young Lions: Ridhwan Fikri (GK), Raoul Suhaimi, Harhys Stewart, Danial Crichton, Harith Kanadi (Syahrul Sazali 56’), Shah Shahiran (C), Amir Syafiz, Jared Gallagher (Elijah Lim 46’), Ryu Hardy (Danish Qayyum 88’), Glenn Kweh (Jordan Emaviwe 78’), Khairin Nadim.
Unused subs: Dylan Pereira (GK), Syed Akmal, Fairuz Fazli.
Balestier: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Darren Teh, Madhu Mohana, Ignatius Ang (Delwinder Singh 60’), Gareth Low, Daniel Goh (Asshukrie Wahid 68’), Ho Wai Loon, Ammirul Emmran, Ryoya Taniguchi, Kuraba Kondo, Shuhei Hoshino (C).
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Aarish Kumar, Hariysh Krishnakumar, Syukri Noorhaizam, Akmal Azman, Aidil Johari, Ryan Praveen.
Bezecourt magic lights up six-goal thriller
Geylang 3-3 Tanjong Pagar | Our Tampines Hub | 9 October
Vincent Bezecourt 31′, 90’+3 (FK), Shakir Hamzah O.G. 41′ | Blake Ricciuto 64′, Khairul Nizam 72′, Reo Nishiguchi 89′
Bezecourt’s crisp low shot and Shakir’s own goal put Geylang two up at the break, but Huzaifah Aziz’s dismissal for a second booking handed the initiative to Tanjong Pagar. The visitors piled on the pressure and cracked the hosts when Ricciuto nodded in Faritz Hameed’s cross, before Nizam repeated the trick off Aqhari’s ball. The Eagles then had to play with nine men when Zaiful Nizam came off injured, leaving Joshua Pereira to fill in after already utilising their three substitution windows. Nishiguchi’s late header off Daniel Bennett’s cross seemed to have completed the comeback for the Jaguars, but Bezecourt had other ideas. Three minutes into injury time, the Frenchman conjured up a stunning 30-yard free-kick and salvaged an unlikely point for the hosts.
- Geylang have lost just twice out of their last 15 games.
- Bezecourt has scored in each of his last three matches, tallying five goals in total.
- Ricciuto scored in three straight games for the first time in Tanjong Pagar colours.
- Nizam scored in successive games for the first time since November 2020 when he struck in three straight matches for Geylang.
- All four of Nizam’s goals have come as a substitute – no other player has scored more as a substitute.
- Shakir’s last own goal also came against Geylang, in a 3-1 defeat for the Jaguars in July 2021.
Geylang: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Tajeli Salamat, Rio Sakuma, Faizal Roslan, Ilhan Noor (Ahmad Syahir 61’), Joshua Pereira, Huzaifah Aziz, Takahiro Tezuka, Umar Akhbar (Muhd Noor Ariff 75’), Vincent Bezecourt, Šime Žužul (Hazzuwan Halim 69’).
Unused subs: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Fareez Farhan, Khairul Hairie, Qayyum Raishyan, Kieran Teo, Ariffin Noor.
Tanjong Pagar: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Akram Azman (Daniel Bennett 46’), Raihan Rahman (Shakir Hamzah 39’), Faritz Hameed (C), Aqhari Abdullah, Blake Ricciuto, Rusyaidi Salime, Mirko Šugić, Shodai Nishikawa, Khairul Amri (Khairul Nizam 57’), Reo Nishiguchi.
Unused subs: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Shahrin Saberin, Faizal Raffi, Emmeric Ong, Fathullah Rahmat, Syukri Bashir.
Red Card: Huzaifah Aziz (Geylang) 58’