News Singapore Premier League • December 1, 2020
Singapore Premier League Week 15: Preview
Gabriel Quak (L) and Kyoga Nakamura are key figures for the Sailors and Tampines
SINGAPORE, 1 DECEMBER 2020 – The champions of the 2020 AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) season could be decided on Wednesday night, when the penultimate round of matches take place. One point clear at the top, Tampines Rovers will seal their first league title since 2013 if they beat Lion City Sailors and Albirex Niigata (S) lose against Tanjong Pagar United. Any other combination of results involving these four sides will see the title race go right down to the wire on Saturday, 5 December. Meanwhile, there is an intriguing three-way fight for AFC Cup qualification as the third-best local team, with just a one-point difference between the sides. Contenders Hougang United and Balestier Khalsa will face off in a crucial six-pointer, while Geylang International will look to capitalise when they go away to Young Lions. All LIVE on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!
ALSO READ: Week 14 Roundup
Stern test of Stags’ title credentials
Lion City Sailors vs Tampines Rovers | 2 Dec | 7.45pm | Bishan | Singtel Ch 111, Starhub Ch 202
Kaishu Yamazaki (L) will have his hands full against the in-form Boris Kopitovic
Team news: Third-placed Sailors will welcome back young playmaker Saifullah Akbar from suspension, but key forward Stipe Plazibat remains a doubt due to a niggling hamstring problem while winger Haiqal Pashia is ruled out due to injury.
As for leaders Tampines, Canadian talisman Jordan Webb has returned from a two-match suspension in time for this big clash as the Stags look to at least maintain their one-point lead at the top going into the final round of matches on Saturday.
- Apart from Albirex (twice), Tampines are the only team to defeat the Sailors this season – in a 4-0 thumping earlier in March.
- Tampines have won the last five encounters in all competitions and are unbeaten in the last six since being defeated 3-1 by the Sailors’ predecessor Home United at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) in the second leg of the 2018 RHB Singapore Cup quarter-finals.
- Tampines’ last defeat in this fixture was back in September 2016 when Home won 1-0 at Bishan – Webb, Yasir Hanapi, Irwan Shah and current Sailors captain Izzdin Shafiq started for the Stags that night, while Song Uiyoung lined up on the opposite side.
- There have been at least three goals in the last five encounters in all competitions since a 1-1 league draw at OTH in September 2018.
- Tampines have scored in the last eight encounters in all competitions since a 0-0 league draw at Jalan Besar in July 2018.
- In the last meeting at Bishan in July 2019, Webb scored a quick-fire brace in the second half to lead Tampines to a 4-2 comeback victory.
- Tampines have scored in 32 straight SPL matches – a run that stretches back to March 2019.
- Webb has scored four in his last four league appearances in this fixture.
- Tampines’ Zehrudin Mehmedović has scored in the last two encounters in all competitions.
- Tampines’ Boris Kopitovic is currently on nine goals – five goals behind Sailors’ Stipe Plazibat in the race for the Golden Boot.
Eagles eye chance to reclaim fourth
Young Lions vs Geylang International | 2 Dec | 7.45pm | Jurong West | Singtel Ch 112
Khairul Nizam (L) and Syed Akmal contest an aerial ball
Team news: Seventh-placed Young Lions may not be able to count on key midfielder Hami Syahin after he missed Sunday’s 4-0 defeat to the Sailors due to injury.
As for Geylang, creative midfielder Firdaus Kasman has returned from suspension but young winger Nur Luqman Rahman is a doubt after injury forced him to sit out the 2-0 loss to Balestier over the weekend. The Eagles are level on points with fourth-placed Balestier Khalsa, but sit below them due to an inferior goal difference.
- Geylang defeated Young Lions 3-0 earlier in March for the first of their five wins this season.
- Geylang are undefeated in the last two encounters since a 2-1 loss at OTH in June 2019 – current Eagle Luqman netted the winner for the Young Lions in that game.
- Young Lions have not beaten Geylang at home in 14 encounters, since a 3-2 win in March 2011 – current Eagle Safirul Sulaiman came on as a first-substitute for Young Lions back then.
- Young Lions have not kept a clean sheet in the last 17 encounters since a 0-0 draw at Jalan Besar in June 2014 – current Eagles Amy Recha (came on in the second half) and Iqbal Hussain was on the bench for Young Lions, while Yuki Ichikawa played the full 90 minutes for Geylang).
- Young Lions are yet to keep a clean sheet in 12 games this season.
Wounded White Swans looking for redemption
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Tanjong Pagar United | 2 Dec | 7.45pm | Jurong East | Singtel Ch 113
Luiz Junior (R) will be key to Tanjong Pagar’s chances of an upset
Team news: Albirex have a clean bill of health with no major injury issues, as Keiji Shigetomi’s men eye a return to winning ways after the stunning 4-1 loss to Tampines that saw them surrender top spot.
As for bottom-placed Tanjong Pagar, young attacker Nashrul Amin is a doubt due to injury while the experienced duo of Delwinder Singh and Ignatius Ang are already ruled out for the season.
- Tanjong Pagar have never beaten Albirex in 15 league meetings so far – their only victory against the White Swans came in a 4-0 thrashing in the 2014 League Cup group stages.
- Tanjong Pagar are still targeting their first win since defeating Harimau Muda B 5-0 in October 2014.
- Tanjong Pagar are two games away from becoming the first team in the league’s 25-year history not to win a single game all season.
- Albirex have not gone two games without a win since July 2019.
- Albirex have scored the opening goal in eight out of their last nine games.
- Albirex’s Tomoyuki Doi is currently on nine goals – five goals behind Sailors’ Stipe Plazibat in the race for the Golden Boot.
- Doi has accumulated 70 shots all season – more than double of the nearest challengers in Tampines’ Kopitovic and Balestier’s Kristijan Krajček (both on 37).
A face-off between AFC Cup aspirants
Hougang United vs Balestier Khalsa | 2 Dec | 7.45pm | Hougang | StarHub Ch 204
Sime Zuzul (L) and Anders Aplin battling during the two sides’ previous meeting in March
Team news: Sixth-placed Hougang will welcome teenage winger Farhan Zulkifli back from suspension, but experienced full-back Nazrul Nazari is a doubt due to injury. Foreigners Zachary Anderson and Charlie Machell have already left the club after the expiry of their contracts, while local forwards Sahil Suhaimi and Naufal Azman are out for the season.
As for Balestier, Fadli Kamis is now available after a serving a two-match ban and he looks set to fill in at the heart of defence again – with young Serbian centre-back Ensar Brunčević still recovering from an injury that has seen him miss the last seven matches. The Tigers will eye this chance to extend the one-point gap between both sides, with a win enough to snuff out the Cheetahs’ hopes of qualifying for continental competition.
- Hougang are undefeated in the last four meetings since Balestier produced a 2-1 comeback win at Hougang Stadium in August 2018.
- Hougang have yet to beat Balestier in the last three encounters at Hougang Stadium since a 1-0 win in April 2017.
- Hougang have not won successive matches at Hougang Stadium since emerging victorious in their first two league matches there in the 2017 season.
- Hougang have conceded the first goal in their last four matches.
- Balestier’s Zaiful Nizam has the most saves in the league with 46 – nine more than nearest challenger in Young Lions’ Nurshafiq Zaini.