Singapore Premier League • February 26, 2020
SPL 2020 Club Guide: Balestier Khalsa
26 FEBRUARY 2020 – Ahead of the 2020 AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, we take a look at each of the nine clubs that are participating in the 25th season of the domestic top flight. Today’s focus is on Balestier Khalsa!
Nickname: The Tigers
Stadium: Bishan Stadium
Highest finish: 3rd (1996)
2019 finish: 9th
Chairman: Thavaneson Selvaratnam
Head coach: Marko Kraljević
Captain: Zaiful Nizam
Foreigners: Šime Žužul (Croatia), Kristijan Krajček (Croatia), Shuhei Hoshino (Japan), Ensar Brunčević* (Serbia)
Last season was one to forget for the Tigers, who finished bottom despite outstanding individual seasons from attackers Hazzuwan Halim and Šime Žužul. The loss of Zaiful Nizam to a long-term injury early in the season was a major factor in the side conceding a league-high 58 goals and Marko Kraljevic – brought back as head coach towards the end of the season – will be glad to have the goalkeeper back for this term. The recruitment of centre-back Ensar Brunčević, who stands close to 2 metres tall, is a sign that Kraljevic has identified defence as a critical area to shore up. Upfront, 2018 Golden Boot winner Shuhei Hoshino will augment the attack and look to strike up a lethal partnership with Hazzuwan, Žužul and Kristijan Krajček. Zulfadhmi Suzliman will get a second lease of life, having barely seen action at Tampines Rovers in 2019.
Squad (as at time of publication)
Goalkeepers: Zaiful Nizam, Zacharial Leong^
Defenders: Fadli Kamis, Jufri Taha, Khalili Khalif^, Ensar Brunčević^, Ahmad Syahir, Danish Uwais^, Christian Chiang Moroni^, Aiman Zavyan^
Midfielders: Aarish Kumar^, Hazzuwan Halim, Kristijan Krajček, Karthik Raj^, Zulfadhmi Suzliman, Elijah Lim^, Faizal Raffi, Syukri Noorhaizam^
Forwards: Šime Žužul, Shuhei Hoshino
*Local SPL clubs are allowed to sign up to four foreign players; one must be below 21 years of age if a club chooses to sign four. For Balestier, Brunčević is Under-21.
^ Local SPL clubs are required to have a minimum of six local U-23 players for a squad size of 19 to 25 players; this increases to seven (squad size 26), eight (27) and nine (28).
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Check out the other previews: Young Lions | Albirex Niigata (S) | Tampines Rovers | Brunei DPMM | Hougang United | Lion City Sailors | Geylang International
All photos courtesy of Balestier Khalsa