News • December 6, 2022
Lion City Sailors and Balestier Khalsa crowned champions of eSPL 2022
Hami Syahin (L) and Iqram Rifqi, 5 December 2022
SINGAPORE, 6 DECEMBER 2022 – Team chemistry is what makes good teams great, and this was best demonstrated by the winners of the third edition of the e-Singapore Premier League (eSPL).
Lion City Sailors pair Iqram Rifqi and Hami Syahin, who deputised for Zulqarnaen Suzliman in the finals, came out on top from an intense fight against Tanjong Pagar United’s Ryan Syaffiq and Rusyaidi Salime to claim the title for the Men’s category.
Meanwhile, impressive performances from Seri Hidayah and Siti Nurhidayah helped Balestier Khalsa become the first club to win the Women’s category.
The players credited their success to their close camaraderie and ability to play to each other’s strengths. “It was nerve wracking at the start after we lost the first leg 6-4 but we played to our abilities, which gave us confidence to bring the cup home”, Hami explained.
For the Tigresses, Nurhidayah credited her team-mate’s sharpshooting, while Hidayah praised her partner’s defensive capabilities.
Played on the eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer (eFootball PES) 2021 video game, the eSPL featured all eight SPL teams, who were each represented by two players. This year’s edition also saw three Deloitte Women’s Premier League clubs – Balestier, Hougang United and Still Aerion Women’s – participate for the first time.
The group-stage matches took place on 3 and 4 December, with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals and finals for the Men’s and Women’s category respectively. The semi-finals and finals took place on 5 December. While the semi-finals were contested in a home and away two-legged knockout format, the final was contested in a best-of-three format.
The Women’s final kicked off first on Sunday, with the Tigresses winning the first leg 4-2 against Hougang United’s Jasmine Kua and Zahirah Abbat. But the latter clawed back in the second leg and won the tie on penalties after the match ended 2-2 in regulation time.
With nothing to lose, both teams played all their cards in the third round and it was the Cheetahs who took the lead from a corner. However, the Tigresses showed great resilience to equalise in the 53rd minute. With the momentum in their favour, the Balestier duo piled on the pressure and finally sealed victory with a dramatic winner in the 92nd minute.
The Men’s final followed soon after and saw the Sailors take on Tanjong Pagar in a contest that was anything but mundane. It was goals galore in round one, but it was the Jaguars who eventually won the tie 6-4. The Sailors then levelled the tie in the next round, with their winning goal coming deep in extra time.
With the wind behind their sails, Hami and Naqiuddin clinched the crown with a comprehensive 3-0 win in the third leg.
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