Singapore Premier League • March 2, 2020
Singapore Premier League Week 1: Roundup
SINGAPORE, 2 MARCH 2020 – Title contenders Albirex Niigata (S) and Hougang United hit the ground running with convincing victories over Geylang International and Young Lions, while Tampines Rovers eked out a narrow win against Balestier Khalsa as the 25th season of domestic football kicked off with a bang. We recap the weekend’s action below…
Albirex 4-0 Geylang | Jurong East | 29 February
Reo Nishiguchi 40’, Ryosuke Nagasawa 52’, Tomoyuki Doi 60’ pen, Ryoya Taniguchi 77’
It took a while for them to get going, but Albirex never looked back after Nishiguchi produced an instinctive first-time finish on the rebound just before the break. With Fareez Farhan’s dismissal for a head-butt shortly after the restart, the White Swans took full advantage with Nagasawa tapping in Nishiguchi’s low cross. The game was effectively over by the hour mark, with Doi converting from the spot after Shahrin Saberin was sent off for a blatant handball to leave the Eagles with nine men. Taniguchi put the icing on the cake late on, punishing a slack Geylang backline to round off a convincing opening victory.
- This is Albirex’s biggest league victory since thumping Home United 4-0 in April 2019.
- Geylang have now failed to score in their last 10 visits to Jurong East in all competitions.
- Geylang are still waiting for their first win at the venue since May 2010 after 17 unsuccessful attempts.
Albirex: Kei Okawa (GK), Kazuki Hashioka (C), Rio Sakuma, Kotaro Takeda, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Kenta Kurishima, Gareth Low (Ryoya Taniguchi 46’), Ryosuke Nagasawa, Iman Hakim (Yasuhiro Hanada 71’), Reo Nishiguchi (Ryuya Mitsuzuka 66’), Tomoyoki Doi.
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Mahiro Takahashi, Zamani Zamri, Ong Yu En.
Geylang: Zainol Gulam (GK), Darren Teh (Shahrin Saberin 46’), Yuki Ichikawa (C), Kamolidin Tashiev, Harith Kanadi, Joshua Pereira, Firdaus Kasman, Azri Suhaili (Iqbal Hussain 46’), Panagiotis Linardos, Christopher Van Huizen, Fareez Farhan.
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Nurullah Hussein, Muhd Noor Ariff, Danish Qayyum, Danish Haziq.
Young Lions 1-4 Hougang | Jurong West | 1 March
Ilhan Fandi 57’ | Stipe Plazibat 8’, 43’ pen. 90’+2, Jordan Vestering 35’
Mainly deployed in a wide position last season, Plazibat made a convincing case for playing upfront with his 50th league goal after being teed up by Afiq Noor’s left-wing cross early on. Left-back Vestering then lashed home a daisy-cutter from the edge of the area, before Plazibat dusted himself off to convert a penalty after being brought down by Jacob Mahler. Young Lions rallied and pulled one back with Ilhan nodding in Nur Adam Abdullah’s teasing cross but Hougang would find a fourth in injury time. Plazibat ran onto Sahil Suhaimi’s disguised pass before putting it past debutant Ridhwan Fikri to take home the match ball.
- Hougang managed to win an opening league game for the first time since 2017.
- Plazibat’s hat-trick meant he has already accounted for one-third of his goal tally last season – nine.
- Young Lions’ Ridhwan, Sahffee Jubpre and Harhys Stewart made their professional debuts in this game.
- Khairin Nadim became the league’s youngest-ever debutant at the age of 15 years and 298 days.
Young Lions: Ridhwan Fikri (GK), Sahffee Jubpre, Syed Akmal, Danish Irfan (Akmal Azman 46’), Akram Azman, Harhys Stewart, Jacob Mahler (C), Rezza Rezky (Khairin Nadim 76’), Abdul Rasaq, Nur Adam Abdullah, Ilhan Fandi (Shahrulnizam Mazlan 83’).
Unused subs: Nurshafiq Zaini (GK), Fikri Junaidi, Marc Ryan Tan, Scott Crichton.
Hougang: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Nazrul Nazari, Anders Aplin, Zachary Anderson, Jordan Vestering, Anumanthan Kumar, Afiq Noor, Charles Machell (Fabian Kwok 78’), Daniel Martens (Shawal Anuar 55’), Farhan Zulkifli (Sahil Suhaimi 63’), Stipe Plazibat.
Unused subs: Heng How Meng (GK), Alif Iskandar, Hafiz Sujad, Shahfiq Ghani.
Tampines 1-0 Balestier | Our Tampines Hub |1 March
Boris Kopitovic 8’
New Montenegrin forward Kopitovic continued his fine scoring form for Tampines by netting the match-winner on his SPL debut, diverting Joel Chew’s right-wing cross at the far post. However, the Stags were indebted to stand-in captain Syazwan Buhari for the victory. After denying Šime Žužul and Faizal Raffi almost-certain goals, he repelled Shuhei Hoshino’s penalty with his legs on 59 minutes and thwarted the 2018 Golden Boot winner again with a stunning reflex save minutes later. The 27-year-old then tipped over Ensar Brunčević’s header from point-blank range deep into injury time to deservedly win the Man of the Match award.
- Kopitovic has netted four goals in five competitive games.
- Balestier are yet to win at OTH after five attempts.
- Balestier are still waiting for their first league win over Tampines since November 2015 after 13 unsuccessful tries.
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Shannon Stephen (Irwan Shah 72’), Amirul Adli, Syahrul Sazali (Taufik Suparno 82’), Madhu Mohana, Shah Shahiran, Kyoga Nakamura, Zehrudin Mehmedović, Joel Chew (Huzaifah Aziz 62’), Boris Kopitovic, Jordan Webb.
Unused subs: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Hamizan Hisham, Safirul Sulaiman, Daniel Bennett.
Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK)(C), Fadli Kamis, Khalili Khalif, Ensar Brunčević, Ahmad Syahir, Hazzuwan Halim, Aarish Kumar (Azizi Rahman 79’), Faizal Raffi, Karthik Raj (Zulfadhmi Suzliman 75’), Šime Žužul, Shuhei Hoshino.
Unused subs: Zacharial Leong (GK), Jufri Taha, Syukri Noorhaizam, Aiman Zavya, Faris Fazlee.