News Singapore Premier League • June 8, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Young Lions and Balestier clash in quest to end losing runs


Ikhsan Fandi celebrates after scoring against Warriors FC last month.

SINGAPORE, 8 JUNE 2018Two teams lying in mid-table, Balestier Khalsa FC and Young Lions FC, will face each other in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League on Sunday night, 10 June at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Kick off is at 8.30pm.

BACKGROUND Sunday’s meeting between the Young Lions and Balestier will see two sides that started the season brightly try to resurrect that form.

The Young Lions started the season with three victories and a draw in their opening six matches, but have taken just two from a possible 15 since and are on a five-game win-less streak.

The Tigers also started the season with a similar record, earning 10 points from their first six matches. However, they have won once in their last five matches to plunge down the table.

Both teams are just separated by a point in the league table, with Balestier in fourth and Young Lions one spot behind.

But Balestier have lost just once to the Young Lions since October 2011, with a record of 15 victories in 19 matches.

Another advantage that might play into the Tigers’ hands will be the fact that Sunday’s match will also be the Young Lions’ ninth in the last five weeks. And fatigue may have taken its toll, admitted centre-back Adam Hakeem.

“It has been tough losing the last three games considering how well we started this season. The number of games we have played the past few weeks has had an impact on the team, with some of the goals that we conceded given away too cheaply,” said the 21-year-old.

But the Young Lions will be raring to go on Sunday as they try to get back on track.

“Right now we are on a losing streak and we have to stop the bleeding. We will be even hungrier to get the three points and get back to winning ways,” he added.

For Balestier’s Keegan Linderboom, it’s all about having the belief that his side are going to win and forget about their recent troubles.

“The plan will be just like every other game, we need to go out there with the belief that we are going to win,” he said.

“Sometimes in football we need to have short-term memory, move forward from the past results and focus on the current game. We have been through the same situation as them before, playing many games in a short space of time. Both teams have a lot to play for so I wouldn’t say it’s perfect timing (for us to play them now).”

The Young Lions may continue to miss midfielder Naqiuddin Eunos after he sat out the previous game against Home United. Full-back Rusyaidi Salime is also out due to injury.

Balestier Khalsa won’t be able to call upon the services of midfielder Raihan Rahman as well as defenders Shaqi Sulaiman and Sharin Majid.

Young Lions: LLLDD
Balestier: LLWLL

11/04/18: Balestier Khalsa 3-1 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
20/09/17: Young Lions 0-1 Balestier Khalsa – Singapore Premier League
22/06/17: Young Lions 0-0 Balestier Khalsa – Singapore Premier League
02/04/17: Balestier Khalsa 1-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
05/08/16: Young Lions 1-3 Balestier Khalsa – Singapore Premier League

Irfan Fandi – Young Lions
The Singapore international has been a rock at the back for his side this year, often coming to his team’s rescue with last-ditch tackles, timely interceptions and well-timed blocks. Not one to back down from physical challenges, Irfan will be key once more as the Young Lions face the towering Vedran Mesec and Linderboom.

Keegan Linderboom – Balestier
Here’s an interesting statistic – the Tigers have lost just once when Linderboom finds the back of the net, but have lost four times in five matches when the towering striker fails to score. Simply put – when Linderboom turns up, Balestier play a lot better.

Having not scored in his last five games, the New Zealander will be keen to prove that his early-season form was not a fluke. Sunday will be a perfect opportunity for him to do so, given the outstanding performance he had in the first meeting between both sides.

Young Lions defender Adam:
“(Coach Fandi) has given us a day to rest and recuperate before we go into training on Friday to prepare for our game against Balestier. We will be giving our all to try our best to end our hectic schedule with a win.”

Balestier forward Linderboom: “We have had a tough five weeks. Not only results-wise, but I think we have had four injuries including myself and two suspensions as well. But the boys have shown they have great character and fighting spirit, especially in the Home United game, so we will bounce back.”

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