Singapore Premier League • February 23, 2022
2022 Singapore Premier League Matchweek 1: Preview
Albirex Niigata (S) and Lion City Sailors in the 2022 AIA Community Shield, 19 February 2022
SINGAPORE, 23 FEBRUARY 2022 – The 27th edition of the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) gets underway this week with three fixtures lined up! Champions Lion City Sailors begin their title defence against Hougang United in the standout clash of the round, while challengers Albirex Niigata (S) are out for a good start against Tanjong Pagar United. Elsewhere, a rejigged Balestier Khalsa side will be gunning to make an impression against Tampines Rovers. ALL LIVE on our YouTube channel and meWATCH!
White Swans gunning for revenge
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Tanjong Pagar United | 25 Feb | 7.45pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Albirex will continue to miss Nicky Melvin Singh who contracted Covid-19 while being away with the Singapore Under-23s in Cambodia, but new signings Satsuki Mori and Kodai Tanaka could feature after training for the past week upon completing their on-arrival quarantines.
Tanjong Pagar face some issues in defence with Shahrin Saberin and Shakir Hamzah (who is also recovering from a serious knee injury) serving one-match bans due to card accumulations carried over from last season, while new signing Daniel Bennett has yet to clear the mandatory Yo-yo test. Australian midfielder Blake Ricciuto is also not ready yet – he only arrived in Singapore in Monday.
- Tanjong Pagar took the most number of points off Albirex in 2021 with a 2-1 win and a 4-4 draw – the Jaguars are undefeated in the last two encounters.
- Albirex’s only defeat in 2021 came against Tanjong Pagar.
- The last time both sides met in the opening week was in the 2011 season when Albirex won 5-0.
- Albirex are on the back of a three-game win-less streak in the league – their worst run of form since a seven-match run in September 2019.
- Tanjong Pagar finished last season with a three-game unbeaten run – avoiding defeat here will see them go four matches without a loss for the first time since October 2014.
- Albirex’s Kazuaki Yoshinaga is set to take charge of his first SPL game since leading the White Swans to a 2-1 win over Warriors FC – he is undefeated in his last 35 league matches since a 2-1 defeat to Hougang in July 2017.
New-look Tigers hope to spring surprise
Balestier Khalsa vs Tampines Rovers | 26 Feb | 5.30pm | Toa Payoh | Singtel Ch 111, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Balestier will miss new goalkeeper Hairul Syirhan through injury, while the versatile Aidil Johari is a doubt due to a shoulder issue. The rest are fit with the likes of Ryoya Taniguchi and Kuraba Kondo set for their club debuts.
As for Tampines, they are largely at full strength bar defender Irfan Najeeb who is recovering from Covid-19. Firdaus Kasman and Christopher van Huizen are set to feature in their respective fifth and third spells with the club.
- Balestier defeated Tampines for the first time in 17 matches in a 5-2 victory during the last encounter.
- The last time both sides met in the opening week was in 2020 when Tampines won 1-0 at Our Tampines Hub.
- Tampines are undefeated in their last three season openers – with two wins and one draw.
- Akbar Nawas will face his former employers in his first SPL game as Balestier head coach – his last game in the league in October 2016 when he led the Stags to a 5-1 win over Albirex.
- Tampines’ Boris Kopitović has scored five goals in five outings against Balestier since arriving in the SPL in 2020.
Holders get title defence underway
Lion City Sailors vs Hougang United | 27 Feb | 5.30pm | Jalan Besar | Singtel Ch 112, StarHub Ch 202
Team news: Sailors have Adam Swandi (suspension) and Nur Adam Abdullah (knee injury) out, while new signing Maxime Lestienne is also not ready, having just arrived earlier in the week. Gabriel Quak remains a doubt as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery. The good news is that young playmaker Saifullah Akbar is now back for selection after returning from international duty with the Singapore U23s.
Hougang will miss Farhan Zulkifli who is recovering from Covid-19 in Cambodia, while Idraki Adnan is still not match fit and Lionel Tan is a doubt due to a muscle strain. New Brazilian recruits Pedro Bortoluzo and André Moritz are set for their debuts.
- Hougang took the most number of points off Sailors in 2021 with a 3-1 win and a 1-1 draw – the Sailors’ only defeat last year came against them.
- The Sailors were the only team to stop Hougang from scoring in 2021 with a 1-0 away win last April.
- Hougang are unbeaten in their last seven league games at Jalan Besar since a 4-2 defeat to Tampines in July 2019.
- The Sailors are on the back of a club-record 18-match unbeaten run and were the only team to score in every game in 2021. They have in fact netted in their last 33 SPL matches, a run started start in March 2020.
- Hougang finished last season with a three-match win-less streak – anything less than a win here will see them go four matches without a win for the first time since March 2019.