News Singapore Premier League • November 30, 2020
Singapore Premier League Week 14: Roundup
Boris Kopitovic (R) scored an important brace for Tampines
SINGAPORE, 30 NOVEMBER 2020 – It was a huge weekend in the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) title race as Tampines Rovers trounced Albirex Niigata (S) to take over at the summit with two games to go, while third-placed Lion City Sailors kept their faint title hopes alive with a thrashing of Young Lions. Elsewhere, Balestier Khalsa and Hougang United picked up victories to make it a three-way fight between themselves and Geylang International for fourth spot. We recap all the action below…
Tigers in driving seat for AFC Cup qualification
Balestier 2-0 Geylang | Bishan | 28 Nov
Kristijan Krajček 48’, Hazzuwan Halim 58’
Balestier ended a five-match win-less run in timely fashion as they leapfrogged Geylang to go fourth on goal difference. The Tigers have long-serving goalkeeper and captain Zaiful Nizam to thank for a two superb saves to deny Barry Maguire – once from open play and another one off a free-kick – before the break. Marko Kraljevic’s men then went ahead through Krajček’s peach of a curler from the edge of the box after being teed up by Šime Žužul, before swiftly doubling the advantage when Hazzuwan’s speculative snapshot was spilled into goal. They would hold out for the three points to put them in the driving seat for qualification to the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup group stages.
- Balestier got their first win at home this season after seven attempts.
- Balestier kept a clean sheet for the first time in seven games.
- Two out of four Balestier’s wins this season came against Geylang.
- Krajček and Hazzuwan were also on the scoresheet in Balestier’s 3-2 win over Geylang in October.
- Krajček’s three goals this season all came from outside the box – the most by any player.
- Zaiful is now on three clean sheets – exceeding his 2019 tally of two.
Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK)(C), Gaye Sameer (Keshav Kumar 75’), Danish Uwais, R. Aaravin, Ahmad Syahir, Zulfadhmi Suzliman (Karthik Raj 85’), Aarish Kumar (Yeo Hai Ngee 90’+4), Kristijan Krajček, Hazzuwan Halim, Šime Žužul, Shuhei Hoshino.
Unused subs: Hafiz Ahmad (GK), Jufri Taha, Puvan Raj, Ryan Selven.
Geylang: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Darren Teh, Shahrin Saberin, Yuki Ichikawa (C), Adam Hakeem (Christopher Van Huizen 51’), Harith Kanadi, Firdaus Kasman (Safirul Sulaiman 87’), Umar Akhbar (Iqbal Hussain 61’), Barry Maguire, Khairul Nizam, Zikos Chua (Amy Recha 46’).
Unused subs: Wayne Chew (GK), Fareez Farhan, Azri Suhaili.
There’s still life amongst the Cheetahs
Hougang 3-2 Tanjong Pagar | Hougang | 28 Nov
Shawal Anuar pen. 25’, Anders Aplin 52’, Shahfiq Ghani pen. 88’ | Farihin Farkhan 23’, Suria Prakash 65’
Hougang halted a three-match losing streak to revive their hopes of AFC Cup qualification and had to do it the hard way by coming from behind. Tanjong Pagar took a shock lead when winger Farihin slammed home at the back post after great initial work from Shodai Nishikawa to escape the attention of two defenders on the left byline, but the Cheetahs equalised almost immediately through Shawal’s penalty. Clement Teo’s men then went ahead when centre-back Aplin crashed in a superb header off Afiq Noor’s pinpoint cross, but the visiting Jaguars restored parity with Suria sliding in to convert after Ridhuan Barudin made a hash of his attempted gather on Luiz Junior’s shot. Tanjong Pagar were unlucky not to go ahead as Suhairi Sabri’s long-range effort was deflected onto the bar, which paved the way for the home side to win it late on through Shahfiq, who made no mistake from the spot after Nazrul Nazari was clipped by Raihan Rahman.
- Hougang came from behind to win a league game for the first time since August 2019 when they came from 2-0 down to beat Balestier 4-3.
- Hougang is the first team to be awarded two penalties in a matches since Geylang in a 4-3 win over Warriors FC in September 2019.
- Hougang have kept just one clean sheet in 15 competitive matches this season.
- Tanjong Pagar have conceded eight headers – the most in the league.
- Tanjong Pagar are still waiting for their first win since defeating Harimau Muda B 5-0 in October 2014.
- Farihin scored his first professional goal.
- Aplin has now scored twice this season – double his previous entire career tally of one.
- Afiq is now the top assist-maker for Hougang with two.
- Suria scored his first goal since August 2019 when he also netted against Ridhuan in Warriors’ 3-1 loss to the Cheetahs at Jalan Besar.
- Luiz has been involved in five out of Tanjong Pagar’s last seven goals – four goals and one assist.
Hougang: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Nazrul Nazari (Maksat Dzhakybaliev 88’), Lionel Tan, Anders Aplin, Hafiz Sujad, Fabian Kwok (C), Anumanthan Kumar (Muhaimin Suhaimi 80’), Nikesh Singh (Faiz Salleh 68’), Afiq Noor, Justin Hui (Shahfiq Ghani 68’), Shawal Anuar.
Unused subs: Daniel Ong (GK), Daniel Martens, Emmeric Ong.
Tanjong Pagar: Kenji Rusydi (GK), Faritz Hameed (C), Yann Motta, Syabil Hisham, Takahiro Tanaka, Ammirul Emmran, Raihan Rahman, Suhairi Sabri, Farihin Farkhan (Suria Prakash 46’), Shodai Nishikawa, Luiz Junior.
Unused subs: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Hadiputradila Saswadimata, Zulkiffli Hassim, Julian Tan, Elfy Danish, Indera Iskandar.
Free-scoring Sailors sweep aside Young Lions
Young Lions 0-4 Sailors | Jurong West | 29 Nov
Arshad Shamim 34’, 55′, Song Uiyoung pen. 41’, Gabriel Quak 73′
The Sailors geared up for the midweek crunch clash against Tampines in style, although the result could have been different if Ilhan Fandi’s audacious effort had not come off the bar at 0-0. Surviving that let-off, Aurelio Vidmar’s men then went ahead when Arshad diverted Shahril Ishak’s flick-on off Aqhari Abdullah’s cross. The young winger then earned a penalty off Young Lions goalkeeper Ridhwan Fikri, which Song duly converted, before producing an emphatic first-time finish off Quak’s cross for his second and the Sailors’ third. Creator then turned scorer as Quak slammed home from close range after being teed up by Hafiz Nor to round off the scoring for the away side as they remained in third – three points behind Albirex and one further behind leaders Tampines.
- Arshad’s two goals meant he has already doubled his previous entire career tally of one.
- Arshad became the ninth different player to score a brace in a match this season.
- The Sailors now have 12 different scorers – the most in the league.
- Quak made an assist and scored a goal in the same game for a second consecutive match.
- Quak is now two clear of teammates Stipe Plazibat and Shahdan Sulaiman at the top of the assists chart with seven.
- Hafiz set up Quak to score for a second consecutive match.
- The Sailors have scored in 11 out of 12 games this season.
- There have been three or more goals scored in the Sailors’ last six games.
- Hassan Sunny recorded his fourth clean sheet of the season; only Albirex’s Kei Okawa and Tampines’ Syazwan Buhari (six each) have more.
- Young Lions have not kept a clean sheet this season.
- Young Lions conceded their fourth penalty of the season – the most of any team.
- Sailors converted a fifth penalty of the season – joint-most with Hougang.
Young Lions: Ridhwan Fikri (GK), Amer Hakeem (Danial Crichton 53’), Syed Akmal, Jacob Mahler (C), Nur Adam Abdullah (Marc Ryan Tan 71’), Harhys Stewart, Ryhan Stewart, Amirul Haikal, Bill Mamadou (Akmal Azman 84’), Shahrulnizam Mazlan (Fikri Junaidi 71’), Ilhan Fandi (Khairin Nadim 53’).
Unused subs: Nurshafiq Zainal (GK), Shahib Masnawi.
Tampines: Hassan Sunny (GK)(C), Aqhari Abdullah (Faizal Roslan 69’), Abdil Qaiyyim, Kaishu Yamazaki, Naqiuddin Eunos (Tajeli Salamat 79’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Song Uiyoung (Izzdin Shafiq 58’), Saifullah Akbar, Gabriel Quak, Arshad Shamim (Adam Swandi 58’), Shahril Ishak (Hafiz Nor 69’).
Unused subs: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Aizal Murhamdani.
Stags take initiative with stunning comeback
Albirex 1-4 Tampines | Jurong East | 29 Nov
Tomoyuki Doi 37’ | Boris Kopitovic 48, 62’, Amirul Adli 56’, Taufik Suparno 88’
When Doi capitalised on a defensive lapse to dink the ball over Syazwan Buhari, it looked like Albirex would snuff out Tampines’ title challenge. However, the visitors roared back with aplomb and a stunning four-goal blitz saw them displace Albirex at the top of the table with two games left. Aided by a pair of wing-back substitutions, the Stags scored thrice in 14 minutes after the restart. Kopitovic first equalised via a close-range header after Madhu Mohana had knocked Yasir Hanapi’s cross into his path, before centre-back Adli lashed home a superb half-volley at the back post to put them ahead after Albirex failed to clear their lines from Nakamura’s corner. Montenegrin hitman Kopitovic was it again moments later as he buried the rebound after his initial shot was saved to extend the Stags’ lead. Substitute Taufik completed the job for Gavin Lee’s men late on as he intercepted Yasuhiro Hanada’s stray pass and ran half the length of the pitch before producing a stunning toe-poked finish past Kei Okawa – sealing an emphatic win to go one point clear at the top.
- Albirex lost a league game in which they have taken the lead for the first time since July 2017 in a 2-1 away defeat to Hougang – a run of 40 games, during which they had just three draws.
- Albirex lost a game after leading at half-time for the first time since March 2014 in a 3-1 away loss to Hougang – a run of 36 games, during which they had just two draws.
- Albirex conceded four in a game for the first time since April 2019 when they were defeated 4-2 by Hougang at Jalan Besar.
- Albirex conceded four at home for the first time since May 2015 when they lost 4-0 to Warriors FC.
- Albirex’s only two losses this season are to Tampines.
- Tampines collected their biggest win over Albirex since a 5-1 thrashing in October 2016 at Jalan Besar.
- Tampines have now scored in 32 straight SPL matches.
- Tampines ended a seven-match losing streak at Jurong East – their last win prior to this was in November 2015.
- Doi has scored nine in 12 games this season, while Kopitovic has seven in his last six outings.
- Doi has now accumulated the most number of shots in each of his last seven appearances.
- Taufik has scored two successive games as a substitute.
- Nakamura has now accumulated 30 shots this season – the most for a player without a goal this season.
Albirex: Kei Okawa (GK), Kazuki Hashioka (C), Rio Sakuma, Kotaro Takeda, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Kenta Kurishima, Iman Hakim (Yasuhiro Hanada 55’), Ryosuke Nagasawa, Ong Yu En (Reo Nishiguchi 46’), Ryoya Taniguchi, Tomoyoki Doi.
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Gareth Low, Ryuya Mitsuzuka, Fairoz Hasan, Mahiro Takahashi.
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Ryaan Sanizal (Irwan Shah 46’), Daniel Bennett, Baihakki Khaizan, Amirul Adli, Andrew Aw (Madhu Mohana 46’), Kyoga Nakamura, Shah Shahiran (Shannon Stephen 90’+2), Zehrudin Mehmedović (Fazrul Nawaz 88’), Yasir Hanapi (C) (Taufik Suparno 76’), Boris Kopitovic.
Unused subs: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Danish Siregar.