News Singapore Premier League • March 9, 2021
SPL 2021 Club Guide: Lion City Sailors
9 MARCH 2021 – Ahead of the 2021 AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, we take a look at each of the eight clubs that are participating in the 26th season of the domestic top flight. Today’s focus is on Lion City Sailors!
Nickname: The Sailors
Stadium: Jalan Besar Stadium
Highest finish: 3rd (2020)
Chairman: Forrest Li
CEO: Chew Chun Liang
Head coach: Aurelio Vidmar
Captain: Hassan Sunny
Foreigners: Song Uiyoung* (South Korea), Jorge Fellipe (Brazil), Diego Lopes (Brazil), Stipe Plazibat (Croatia)
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Having made waves by becoming Singapore’s first ever privatised football club in the lead-up to the 2020 season, the Sailors were expected to mount a strong title challenge. While they did overcome a shaky start, Aurelio Vidmar’s men ultimately fell short and defeats to eventual champions Albirex Niigata (S) proved critical as they finished third.
If expectations were high in their maiden campaign, those have now rocketed. The blockbuster arrival of Diego Lopes from the Portuguese top flight in an unprecedented S$3million deal means that the Sailors will be expected to cruise to the league title. The Brazilian ace will be helped by the likes of Singapore national team stars Shahdan Sulaiman, Faris Ramli, Gabriel Quak, Hafiz Nor, Hassan Sunny, Adam Swandi and Amirul Adli, while Jorge Fellipe reinforces the back-line and 2020 Golden Boot winner Stipe Plazibat looks to thrive on Lopes’ service.
Reigning SPL Young Player of the Year, Saifullah Akbar, leads a stable of top young talent that includes new arrival Nur Adam Abdullah and Haiqal Pashia, giving Vidmar plenty of options and also strength in depth as they contest the AFC Cup as well.
It is safe to say all eyes will be on the Sailors, who have the quality on paper to sweep both league and Singapore Cup, and go far in the AFC Cup. If Vidmar can get the team’s balance right and make a strong start, that trophy cabinet should see its first additions come end of the season.
Squad (as at time of publication)
Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny, Rudy Khairullah, Adib Nur Hakim^
Defenders: Ho Wai Loon, Tajeli Salamat, Jorge Fellipe, Amirul Adli, Abdil Qaiyyim, Aqhari Abdullah, Naqiuddin Eunos, Nur Adam Abdullah^
Midfielders: Shahdan Sulaiman, Diego Lopes, Hafiz Nor, Song Uiyoung, Justin Hui^, Saifullah Akbar^, Haiqal Pashia^, Aizal Murhamdani^, Gabriel Quak, Adam Swandi, Faris Ramli
Forwards: Stipe Plazibat, Amiruldin Asraf
*Local SPL clubs, excluding Albirex Niigata (S) and Young Lions, are allowed to sign up to four foreign players; at least one has to be of an AFC Member Association (Asian) nationality. A maximum of four foreign players can be fielded in any one match.
^ Local SPL clubs, excluding Albirex Niigata (S) and Young Lions, are required to have a minimum of six local U-23 players (born on or after 1 January 1998) for a squad size of 18 (minimum) to 25 (maximum) players. At least eight local U-30 players (born on or after 1 January 1991) have to be registered as well.