Like other leagues in Asia, the Singapore Premier League (SPL) is set to return after a two month hiatus, due to World Cup Qualifiers as well AFC Champions League games for Tampines Rovers.
The Singapore national team finished 4th out of 5 in Group D, with sides such as Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Palestine and Yemen. They will advance to the Asian Cup third qualifying round as bottom three runners-up, with the third round set to be played across the September, October and November months.
Whereas Tampines Rovers, may have had a ACL debut campaign to forget. In the six games that they played, they did not win a single game and only scored 1, whilst conceding 27. That being said, they had an incredibly tough group with the likes of K.League champions Jeonbuk Hyundai, Gamba Osaka from J.League and Chiangrai United from Thai League.
But now with all of the tournaments out of the way, the league can finally resume!
Well technically yes...but we have quick rescheduled match between Tanjong Pagar United and Young Lions first tomorrow at 10:30am UK time. The game had been abandoned originally due to severe weather.
However, the league is returning with the first game of matchweek 12 starting Friday 23rd July at 12:45pm UK Time.
The league also announced that due to improvement in the country regarding covid-19, that up to 250 fans will be allowed at each match, following a few matchweeks with no fans present. Fans need only prove a negative test result or proof of vaccination for entry to the game.
With there being such a long pause in the league, hopefully having fans back in the stadiums will allow the excitement and energy of games to start once more!
Reminder of Round 11 results
There was a fair number of high scoring games in Matchweek 11 of the SPL, providing some great entertainment and end to end action.
Lion City Sailors 1-0 Young Lions
The Young Lions made title contenders, Lion City Sailors sweat and work hard for their victory. Despite the Sailors dominance, they just seemed unable to break through the Young Lions defence, but also due to 22 year old goalkeeper, Nurshafiq Zaini, having an incredible game. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on who you support, Young Lions saw their defender, Syahrul Sazali sent off in the 42nd minute. Sailors capitalised on this, scoring a fantastic from the freekick they were given for Sazali's foul. Sailors pushed for a second goal, but were frustrated by the Young Lions stalwart performance. The frustration got the better of Sailors Midfielder, Song Ui-young, who was sent off in the 84th minute.
Tampines Rovers 2-3 Hougang United
Tampines were out for revenage in this return match, considering the last time these two sides faced each other it ended with a 5-1 win to Hougang. Whilst the performance was considerably better, Hougang still had enough to see off Rovers. Tampines captain Yasir Hanapi, gave them the lead from a header, but it wasn't long until Hougang equalised. Making it 1-1 heading into half time. It was United who came out with some fight, scoring two quick goals on the bounce through Tomoyuki Doi in the 50th minute and then Idraki Adnan making it 3-1 in the 55th minute. Montenegrin Boris Kopitović, did try to get his side back into the game when he scored a goal in 62nd minute. But Hougang were able to quash any Tampines attack.
Tanjong Pagar 2-2 Balestier Khalsa
Given Balestier's poor run of form heading into this game, Tanjong Pagar could be forgiven for being over-confident. Particularly when they opened the scoring in the 32nd minute through Reo Nishiguichi following a cut-back from Shodai Nishkawa. But, Khalsa still had some fight left in them. Balestier brought on Croatian forward, Šime Žužul after half time and he redeemed the good faith of coach Marko Kraljević, when he scored in the 61st minute after an incredible lob over Tanjong's keeper. The jaguars then struck back after Amri converted a penalty kick to make it 2-1 to Tanjong in the 85th minute. However, Khalsa's Croatian continued to cause more trouble for the oppostion defence and received his reward when he scored again in the 89th minute to make it 2-2. Meaning the Tigers and the Jaguars shared the point come the end of the match.
Geylang International 1-2 Albirex Niigata
Albirex Niigata went into this game as league leaders and undefeated. However, Geylang almost spoiled the party. Despite midfielder Kosuke Chiku, scoring first for Albirex, Geylang weren't about to lie down for the side who scored 25 goals in 10 matches. They struck back at Albirex after half-time, attacking relentlessly until Moresche’s equalised after receiving a through ball from teammate Firdaus Kasman. But despite Geylang's fight and energy, the league leaders had too much quality and depth. In the 66th minute, Niigata won a freekick 25 yards out of goal and up stepped defender Takahiro Tezuka to whip the ball into the top left corner. Geylang provided a good challenge for Albirex, but unfortunately they join the long list of teams waiting to take points from them.
Where to watch
If like me you're interested in watching Singapore Premier League, you can do so with relative ease. All games are free and avaliable to watch on the Singapore Premier League YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiJTKr-wja_JVM2dVTYCELA) or on the league's facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SingaporePremierLeague)
Tanjong Pagar vs Young Lions | 17 July | 10:30am UK
Albirex Niigata vs Lion City Sailors | 23 July | 12:45pm UK
Hougang United vs Tanjong Pagar | 24 July | 10:30am UK
Geylang International vs Balestier Khalsa | 25 July | 10:30am UK