News Singapore Premier League • December 6, 2020
Singapore Premier League Week 16: Roundup – Albirex seal title, Geylang take AFC Cup berth on final day
Ryoya Taniguchi wheels away after scoring what would prove to be the title-clinching goal for Albirex
SINGAPORE, 6 DECEMBER 2020 – An exciting 2020 AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) title race came to a conclusion on Saturday evening, with Albirex Niigata (S) clinching their fourth championship in five seasons after a narrow win over Hougang United.
The White Swans were not even required to win as it turned out, with second-placed Tampines Rovers dropping points in a frustrating draw with Eastern rivals Geylang International as the Stags eventually finished three points off the top.
That result did prove to be enough for the Eagles, however, as they secured the second and final AFC Cup berth as the third-best local team. Balestier Khalsa came into the final day in the driving seat to qualify, but a thrashing by Lion City Sailors ended their continental hopes as the Tigers finished one point adrift of Geylang.
Meanwhile, Tanjong Pagar United finished bottom and suffered the ignominy of becoming the first team in the league’s 25-year history not to win a single game during a season as they were overpowered by a motivated Young Lions side. We recap all the action below…
White Swans seal the deal
Hougang 0-1 Albirex | Hougang | 5 Dec
Ryoya Taniguchi 52’
Just like against Tanjong Pagar United three days ago, Albirex had issues breaking down a stubborn opponent as Hougang put up some enterprising stuff despite coming into this game with nothing to play for. Farhan Zulkifli contrived to fire wide after rounding Kei Okawa, while Shawal Anuar brought the best out of the Albirex custodian with a curling shot from the edge of the box. The White Swans remained patient and got the breakthrough just after the break. Sharp to intercept Nazrul Nazari’s loose clearance, Tomoyuki Doi proceeded to tee up Taniguchi for a sizzling first-time finish from 10 yards out. Keiji Shigetomi’s men never relinquished the lead as they went on to reclaim the crown that they won from 2016 to 2018.
- Apart from Tampines and Sailors, no team has managed to score against Albirex since the league restarted in mid-October.
- Hougang won just two out of their final 10 games after upsetting Tampines 2-1 in their first game after the restart.
- Hougang finished third-from-bottom after a third-placed finish in 2019.
- Hougang kept just one clean sheet in 17 competitive games in 2020.
- Despite leaving in the mid-season transfer window, Stipe Plazibat is Hougang’s top scorer in 2020 with five goals – with Shawal following behind with four.
- Doi accumulated the most number of shots in each of his last nine appearances – he ends the season as the player who had the most shots with 83.
- Okawa kept eight clean sheets from 14 games this season – the most by any goalkeeper.
Hougang: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Muhaimin Suhaimi (Shahfiq Ghani 81’), Anders Aplin, Lionel Tan, Hafiz Sujad, Fabian Kwok (C) (Faiz Salleh 71’), Nikesh Singh, Nazrul Nazari, Afiq Noor, Farhan Zulkifli (Justin Hui 87’), Shawal Anuar.
Unused subs: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Daniel Ong (GK), Daniel Martens, Emmeric Ong.
Albirex: Kei Okawa (GK), Kazuki Hashioka (C), Rio Sakuma, Kotaro Takeda, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Kenta Kurishima, Iman Hakim (Reo Nishiguchi 46’), Ryosuke Nagasawa (Mahiro Takahashi 90’+2), Fairoz Hasan (Ryuya Mitsuzuka 46’), Ryoya Taniguchi, Tomoyuki Doi.
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Gareth Low, Yasuhiro Hanada, Ong Yu En.
No respite for Jaguars
Tanjong Pagar 2-4 Young Lions | Jurong East | 5 Dec
Luiz Junior 57’ pen, 90’+2 | Khairin Nadim 12’, 84’, Ryhan Stewart 44’, Ilhan Fandi 45’+
The Young Lions finished the season with a flourish, with 16-year-old Khairin putting them ahead through a stunning effort that struck the post before going in. Nazri Nasir’s boys then got another two in quick succession to go three up by half time – midfielder Ryhan curled in a left-footed belter, before Ilhan produced a clinical first-time finish off Nur Adam Abdullah’s left-wing cross. Tanjong Pagar pulled one back through a penalty by Brazilian frontman Luiz, but the away side ended any hopes of a comeback with Khairin beating Kenji Rusydi at his near post for his second of the night. The Jaguars did grab a second with Luiz completing a double on the rebound, but it proved to be too little too late as they finished bottom for the first time since 2004.
- Young Lions scored four in a game for the first time since April 2012 when they thrashed Tanjong Pagar 5-0 at Queenstown.
- Young Lions scored three in the first half for the first time since September 2019 when they demolished Home United 3-0 at Bishan.
- Young Lions finished the season without a clean sheet.
- Two of of Young Lions’ three wins this season came against Tanjong Pagar.
- Tanjong Pagar have the second-worst ever record in SPL history with five points (five draws from 14 matches) – just ahead of Paya Lebar Punggol’s tally of four points (one win and one draw from 27 matches) in 2005 and just behind Young Lion’s tally of six (one win and three draws from 24 matches) in 2017.
- Khairin is the youngest-ever player in SPL history to score a brace at 16 years and 212 days.
- Ilhan scored for the first time since netting in the 4-1 opening-day loss to Hougang back in March.
Tanjong Pagar: Kenji Rusydi (GK), Faritz Hameed (C), Yann Motta, Syabil Hisham, Takahiro Tanaka, Ammirul Emmran, Raihan Rahman, Suhairi Sabri (Zulkiffli Hassim 82’), Farihin Farkhan (Suria Prakash 46’), Shodai Nishikawa, Luiz Junior.
Unused subs: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Nashrul Amin, Ribiyanda Saswadimata, Julian Tan, Elfy Danish.
Young Lions: Nurshafiq Zaini (GK), Danial Crichton (Amirul Haikal 64’), Syed Akmal, Jacob Mahler (C), Danish Irfan (Shahib Masnawi 88’), Harhys Stewart (Bill Mamadou 88’), Ryhan Stewart, Hami Syahin, Nur Adam Abdullah (Nor Hakim 88’), Ilhan Fandi (Shahrulnizam Mazlan 83’), Khairin Nadim.
Unused subs: Putra Anugerah (GK), Zamani Zamri.
Sailors finish season on a high
Sailors 5-2 Balestier | Bishan | 5 Dec
Shahril Ishak 21’, Saifullah Akbar 34’, Danish Uwais 40’ O.G., Song Uiyoung 80’, 90’+2 | Šime Žužul 42’, 88’
Despite starting both foreign players on the bench, an all-local Sailors lineup proved to be too strong for Balestier. Veteran Shahril lashed the Sailors ahead after being found by Naqiuddin Eunos, before rising midfielder Saifullah produced a brilliant first-time volley off Hafiz Nor’s right-wing cross to double the advantage. The Tigers then went three down with Fadli Kamis’ attempted clearance coming off Danish for an unfortunate own goal, before Žužul capitalised on a Sailors’ defensive mix-up to pull one back. South Korean midfielder Song then came off the bench late on to produce a well-taken brace with two sharp finishes to beat Zaiful Nizam at his near post. Those goals sandwiched Žužul’s second goal from close range as The Tigers were pipped to continental football by Geylang.
- Balestier accumulated 31 shot attempts as compared to Sailors’ 10.
- The Sailors put 12 goals past Balestier in two encounters this season.
- The Sailors have scored four goals or more in 6 out of 14 games this season.
- Balestier still accumulated more points than last season with 19 from 14 games (five wins and four draws) – they had 17 from 24 games (four wins and five draws) in 2019.
- Song finished the season with nine league goals – three more than last season. This is his second-best season tally – he had 10 in 2018.
- Zaiful finished the season with the most saves on 53 – 15 more than Young Lion’s Nurshafiq Zaini.
Sailors: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Faizal Roslan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Tajeli Salamat (Kaishu Yamazaki 70’), Naqiuddin Eunos, Izzdin Shafiq (C), Saifullah Akbar (Song Uiyoung 76’), Gabriel Quak (Shahdan Sulaiman 70’), Arshad Shamim (Adam Swandi 60’), Hafiz Nor, Shahril Ishak.
Unused subs: Hassan Sunny (GK), Adib Nur Hakim (GK), Aizal Murhamdani.
Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK)(C), Fadli Kamis, Danish Uwais, R. Aaravin, Ahmad Syahir, Hazzuwan Halim, Aarish Kumar (Jordan Emaviwe 46’), Kristijan Krajček, Karthik Raj (Gaye Sameer 34’, Zulfadhmi Suzliman 56’), Šime Žužul, Shuhei Hoshino.
Unused subs:Hafiz Ahmad (GK), Jufri Taha, Yeo Hai Ngee, Puvan Raj.
Eagles frustrate title-chasing rivals to clinch AFC Cup spot
Tampines 1-1 Geylang | Our Tampines Hub | 5 Dec
Baihakki Khaizan 80’ | Barry Maguire 24’
Needing to win to stand any realistic chance of winning their first league title since 2013, Tampines started off ominously with Geylang taking the lead midway through the first half. Fareez Farhan’s pinpoint delivery from a corner picked out Maguire and the makeshift centre-back nodded home at the near post to stun the majority of the 200 fans that were allowed in as part of a pilot test. Tampines dominated virtually the rest of the game and kept working the ball into the box, but were kept at bay by a stout Eagles defence that constantly cleared their lines while Mehmedović was denied by the post from six yards out. The Stags did find an equaliser with 10 minutes to go, with veteran Baihakki leaping the highest to head home Irwan Shah’s deep free-kick into the area. However, they were unable to find the winner in the end as Geylang held on to achieve AFC Cup qualification for the first time since 2010.
- Tampines had 17 shot attempts as compared to Geylang’s three.
- Tampines have failed to beat Geylang in the last four league encounters, with three of those being 1-1 draws.
- Tampines drew five out of their final eight games this season.
- Tampines have now scored in 34 straight SPL matches.
- Tampines went 10 matches unbeaten in a season for the first time since September 2012.
- Both Maguire’s goals this season came via headers off Fareez’s corners.
- Baihakki scored his first SPL goal since 2009 when he was playing for Geylang United.
- Tampines’ Kyoga Nakumura ended the season as the player with the most shots without a goal on 34.
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Ryaan Sanizal (Irwan Shah 46’), Madhu Mohana ( Taufik Suparno 76’), Baihakki Khaizan, Daniel Bennett, Andrew Aw (Zehrudin 46’), Kyoga Nakamura, Shah Shahiran, Yasir Hanapi (C), Jordan Webb, Boris Kopitovic.
Unused subs: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Shannon Stephen, Amirul Adli, Danish Siregar.
Geylang: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Darren Teh, Barry Maguire, Yuki Ichikawa (C), Harith Kanadi, Firdaus Kasman, Umar Akhbar, Azri Suhaili (Safirul Sulaiman 64’), Nur Luqman Rahman, Fareez Farhan (Iqbal Hussain 77’), Amy Recha.
Unused subs: Zainol Gulam (GK), Shahrin Saberin, Nurullah Hussein, Zikos Chua, Christopher Van Huizen.