159621757_4077995818886676_1203246059225659091_n(Geylang Int'l Photo credit : Football Association of Singapore)


By Marvin Gold

It was a fantastic start to the 2021 AIA Singapore Premier League, with a whopping tally of 19 goals scored in 4 matches over the recent weekend. The top title contenders delivered as expected, and even though there were rain delays and fans being absent from the stands, Season 26 kicked off with a major goal-feast!

159512938_4346800188667776_2967355498009102178_o(Lion City Sailors' Photo Credit : Football Association of S'pore)

Lion City Sailors (LCS) 3-3 Tampines Rovers @ Jalan Besar Stadium

A season opener like this deserves fans and the entertainment this game provided could have easily filled a stadium twice the size at Jalan Besar. It's a testament to the players and coaches of both teams that, despite a 70 min-delay and 2 interrupted warm-up attempts, they kept their composure and put on a great show on the pitch.

On Saturday evening, the Sailors came out swinging from the opening bell and threw a 1-2 punch that could have taken down lesser teams. A beautiful move in the 5th minute involving 5 players gave the opening goal to Song Ui Yong. And a minute later, 2020 SPL Player of the Year Gabriel Quak, was given the chance to drift into his favourite position from the right and fired a sweet grounder to the bottom corner for a 2-0 lead.

Rovers captain Yasir Hanapi was trying to rally his Stags from the centre circle. And it took them 15 mins to recover when Madhu Mohana pounced on an uncleared corner with his left foot to pull one goal back. In the 1st half, Tampines had 2 good penalty shouts and missed chances from Marc Ryan Tan, Irwan Shah and Kyoga Nakamura. But the match entered halftime with the Sailors ahead by the odd goal.

After the interval, LCS extended their lead in the 58th minute. A neat touch from substitute Faris Ramli released Stipe Plazibat in the box and he squared for Gabriel Quak to finish near the penalty spot for a 3-1 lead.  Meanwhile, a bit of Lady Luck and the introduction of Boris Kopitovic in the 2nd half, turned it around for the Stags. His fellow foreign signing Zehrudin Mehmedovic laid off for Yasir on the edge of the box and he stole past Tajeli Selamat to slot home for the 2nd goal.  And just before the water break, Yasir’s cross from the left eluded Amirul Adli, Kopitovic and goalkeepr Hassan Sunny,  and ended up in the bottom corner of the net. Tampines had the slight upper hand in the final 20 mins, but 3-3 seemed like a fair result, although the Sailors would rue their missed chances in the first half.

159609833_4346910218656773_7123236496339617395_o(ANFCS' Photo credit : Football Association of Singapore)

Albirex Niigata 3-1 Home United FC @Jurong East Stadium

The White Swans proved that champions know how to find a way to win. And although pre-match comments tried to place themselves as challengers rather than favorites this season, Albirex should still be challenging seriously for the title come the end of the season. 

Hougang fans would need to give their team a bit more patience as they try to gel all the new players. In Lionel Tan, they may possess a leader who can thrive with the support of the rest. The coaching team is getting closer to learning from the mistakes of last season.

160554207_4349215521759576_1960285225445823060_n(TPUFC Photo Credit : Football Association of Singapore)

Geylang International FC 2-1 Tanjong Pagar United FC @Our Tampines Hub

An early penalty from new signing Matheus Moresche gave the Eagles the lead, but that did not last long. Blake Ricciuto replied for the Jaguars 2 minutes later, climbing highest above the crowd at the far post to nod home a cross from Delwinder Singh. But Tanjong Pagar were made to pay for a mistake on the touchline when the ball reached Moresche in the box. And he let loose a straight grounder to the far post for their opening win!

The Eagles can breathe a sigh of relief to win a match they never dominated, despite the odds on their side. Their game management earned them 3 points. But their chances for this coming Wednesday's matches took a hit with injuries to Barry Maguire and Harith Kanadi. 

The Jaguars though, would be bitterly disappointed to not have taken at least a point from this match. A combination of nerves and early yellow cards sapped them of the freedom to mount a more effective late comeback. 

159862506_4349215068426288_3249217488567105306_o (Young Lions Photo credit : Football Association of Singapore)

Young Lions 3-3 Balestier Khalsa @ Jln Besar Stadium

JBS was the scene for another 6-goal thriller on Sunday evening. Pre-game, the odds were significantly favouring the Tigers of Balestier Khalsa. However, the Young Lions took the lead through a combination of Ilhan Fandi and Zamani Zamri. But Hazzuwan Halim converted a smartly-won penalty for Balestier to level the scores in the 31st minute.  Shuhei Hosino went on to put the Tigers in front, with a superb sweeping shot from the edge of the box and the first half ended 2-1 to BKFC. 

Following the break, Hoshino banged in a superb dipping shot in the 50th minute to extend the lead for the Tigers to 1-3. However a Zaiful Nizam mistake on a cross gave a goal to Khairin Nadim. And a "miracle" happened in the 84th minute, when Hami Syahin, who'd been on the field for mere seconds, headed in the dramatic equaliser. 3-3 it ended at JBS! 


Edited by Raj Kumar


Marvin Gold became a Singapore football fan, after being dropped during a Selection Trial for a youth team, when he was 15! Since then (1996), he's been following the SPL (or S.League) since its inception 25 seasons ago. And he's been in love with the local game over the years, so much so that he just can't get enough of it!


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