Singapore Premier League • May 9, 2024

2024/25 SPL Club Guide: Balestier Khalsa

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Ahead of the 2024-2025 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, we look at each of the nine clubs participating in the 29th season of the domestic top flight. Today’s focus is on Balestier Khalsa!

 

Seasons: 29

Nickname: The Tigers

Stadium: Bishan Stadium

Highest finish: 3rd (1996)

2023 finish: 4th

Chairman: S Thavaneson

Head coach: Peter De Roo

Captain: Alen Kozar

Foreigners: Alen Kozar (Slovenia), Ismail Sassi (Tunisia), Kodai Tanaka (Japan), Masahiro Sugita (Japan), Riku Fukashiro (Japan), Souhaib Benchakroun (Morocco).

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Balestier finished a solid 4th last season – their best showing since the league rebranded from the S. League to the SPL in 2018 – and will have their sights set on surpassing that achievement in 2024-2025.

 

Despite the departure of key figures in Ryoya Taniguchi to Geylang International and the trio of Shuhei Hoshino, Daniel Goh and captain Ho Wai Loon to Albirex Niigata (S) over the off-season, the Tigers have recruited impressively, and the results have been positive in pre-season so far.

 

The Bishan outfit have recorded eye-catching victories over Albirex (7-3), Tanjong Pagar (4-1), and the Sailors (3-1) in the recent SPL Interim Pre-Season Tournament. New signing Kodai Tanaka has hit the ground running with four goals in three matches to lead the way for the new-look Tigers. Besides Tanaka, who scored 33 goals in 2022 to lead Albirex to the SPL title, Balestier have added Japanese Riku Fukashiro, Tunisian Ismail Sassi and local talent Elijah Lim to the squad. The services of foreigners Alen Kozar and Masahiro Sugita – two mainstays in last season’s starting XI – have also been retained.

 

Interestingly, games involving Balestier last season saw a league-high 131 goals. While the Tigers scored goals for fun in 2023, they also conceded 71 times — only bottom side Young Lions conceded more with 76. Balestier will again not be short of goals with the addition of proven hitmen Tanaka and Fukashiro, so returning head coach Peter de Roo knows that the secret to success this season will be improving at the other end of the pitch.

 

Should the Dutchman be able to shore up the Tigers’ defenses in 2024-2025, equaling or surpassing the club’s highest-ever 3rd-place finish in 1996 (when the club was known as Balestier Central) might be a real possibility.

 

Squad (as at time of publication)

Goalkeepers: Mukundan Maran, Martyn Mun, Hafiz Ahmad, Wayne Chew

Defenders: Darren Teh, Tajeli Salamat, Syabil Hisham, Emmeric Ong, Madhu Mohana, Harith Kanadi, Amer Hakeem, Jordan Emaviwe, Fudhil I’yadh, Syukri Noorhaizam

Midfielders: Alen Kozar, Masahiro Sugita, Ignatius Ang, Elijah Lim Teck Yong

Forwards: Ismail Sassi, Riku Fukashiro, Kodai Tanaka, Amiruldin Asraf

 

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