Singapore Premier League • May 5, 2024

Sailors notch second Community Shield title against Albirex in a repeat of 2022 league curtain raiser

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SINGAPORE, 5 MAY 2024 – In a repeat of the 2022 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, Lion City Sailors emerged victorious over Albirex Niigata (S) as they secured the SPL 2024/25 Community Shield title with a 2-0 win over the same opponents at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

 

In front of a boisterous 4,148-strong crowd, Aleksandar Rankovic’s side delivered a commanding performance against a new look Albirex lineup, predominantly comprising of local players such as midfielder Ho Wai Loon and winger Daniel Goh. A clinical strike by Shawal Anuar and a penalty scored by Maxime Lestienne proved to be the deciding factors as the victory marks the second time that the Sailors have clinched the prestigious Community Shield.

 

 

Prior to kick-off, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) presented a donation of S$30,000 to Beyond Social Services who are the official beneficiary for the Community Shield this year. FAS President, Mr. Bernard Tan and the guest of honor, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Mr. Edwin Tong handed the cheque to Mr. Gerard Ee, Senior Advisor of Beyond Social Services, which is a community development agency that serves to address the needs of the community. The donation, which included proceeds from the ticket sales, underscored FAS’s commitment to fostering communal support and will bolster Beyond Social Services’ mission of fostering interdependence among neighbors, empowering families, and nurturing resilient communities.

 

Mr. Gerard Ee, Senior Advisor of Beyond Social Services receiving the cheque from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Mr. Edwin Tong and FAS President Mr. Bernard Tan, 4 May 2024

 

After the pre-match formalities were over, Albirex Niigata and Lion City Sailors went head-to-head in an evenly contested match, with the Sailors slightly edging the proceedings in the opening 20 minutes.

While the Sailors had plenty of chances to take the lead, they were denied by a combination of resolute defending by the White Swans backline as well as a fine display in goal by National Team custodian, Hassan. The defending league champions had their fair share of goal scoring chances with the most clear-cut opportunity coming in the 20th minute when Daniel Goh squandered a chance by rushing his volley effort wide.

 

Albirex Niigata (S) winger Daniel Goh taking on the Lion City Sailors players, 4 May 2024

 

As the match progressed, the Lion City Sailors’ dominance grew and culminated in Shawal Anuar giving them the lead in the 43rd minute. A perfectly executed lobbed pass by Lestienne was chased through by Shawal before he struck the ball beyond the reach of his international team-mate Hassan. The goal was reminiscent of his strike against Hougang United in the 2023 Singapore Cup Final enroute to the Sailors clinching the coveted domestic cup.

The first half concluded with Sailors holding a slender 1-0 lead over the White Swans, setting the stage for an intense second half.

 

Shawal Anuar and Maxime Lestienne celebrate the opening goal, 4 May 2024

 

Albirex emerged from the break with renewed vigor in search of an equaliser and launched numerous attacks at the opponent’s goal but the Sailors’ defense marshalled by Bailey Wright remained resolute.

With both teams going all out to claim the first piece of silverware of the new season, tensions threatened to boil over, both on and off the pitch. A brief touchline flare-up between the two team coaches in the 51st minute resulted in a caution for Sailor’s Rankovic but cooler heads quickly prevailed thereafter.

 

Maxime Lestienne celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot, 4 May 2024

 

Despite Albirex’s improved performance in the second half, it was the Sailors who looked most likely to add to their tally. And as fatigue began to set in, Sailors capitalised on their momentum and was given a penalty in the 82nd minute after Lestienne was adjudged to have been fouled in the penalty box. The Belgian expertly converted the spot kick by sending Hassan the wrong way and giving his side a 2-0 lead.

It proved to be an insurmountable challenge for the reigning league champions as referee Clarence Leow blew the final whistle to send the Sailors’ team and fans in jubilation.

 

Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga doing his post-match interview on the sidelines, 4 May 2024

 

In his post-match interview, Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga acknowledged the areas for improvement that his side needs going into the new season. “We did well in some areas, but we struggled to score goals. We need to work on attacking better and showing more determination in our games.”

His counterpart Rankovic praised his side’s control of the game and celebrated their triumph. “We dominated the game and limited their chances. While I had hoped for more scoring chances, I’m pleased that we clinched the Shield.”

 

Aleksandar Rankovic and his team lifts the SPL Community Shield, 4 May 2024

 

The result sets a promising tone for the new campaign ahead as the 29th season of the Singapore Premier League will kick off on 10 May.

 

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