The Singapore Premier League was back in action this past weekend and the “weekend” kicked off on Thursday where Balestier Khalsa took on Tampines Rovers who were looking to bounce back from their 4-1 thumping by Lion City Sailors. Unfortunately for the Stags, they slumped to another heavy defeat again – this time a shock 5-2 loss to the Tigers. Balestier had been on a rut of late but you can always expect the unexpected from this club. Truth be told, many local football fans were probably thinking that Zaiful Nizam’s recent contract termination may have been the final nail in the coffin for Balestier.
Elsewhere, Lion City Sailors managed to overcome a resilient Tanjong Pagar side (FT: 2-1) while Hougang United came from behind to beat Geylang International 2-1 to keep themselves in the race for the title. On the final fixture of matchday 16, we had Young Lions taking on Albirex Niigata and while the Cubs may have lost 1-0 to the reigning champs, make no mistake. They showed real class and determination.
These are the players who make the cut and as always, this is never an easy process!
Izwan Mahbud – GK
Izwan Mahbud makes the cut this week mainly because he made the most saves out of any other keeper this week and it’s good to see Izwan back to what he does best. Had it not been for the penalty, you can bet your bottom dollar that Izwan would have kept a clean sheet.
If it’s one thing you can’t deny about Ryhan Stewart, it’s the fact that he has a truly admirable work rate. Darting up and down the right flank, his pace makes him an asset in defence and attack. The older Stewart brother also made a total of 24 challenges, with a 75% success rate – not too shabby indeed.
The towering defender had a decent showing in the back and scored a crucial second goal that was eventually the winner against Tanjong Pagar United. Known more for his powerful headers, Fellipe tapped the ball past Zharfan Rohaizad after Stipe headed the ball to him following a Sailors freekick.
Amer Hakeem was a strong physical presence in the back for the Tigers against the mighty Stags and helped to marshall out attacks with his defensive acumen. An assist to his name to cap the night off, a solid performance indeed!
Ho Wai Loon
Simply incredible against the Stags. It was nice to see Ho Wai Loon reprise his familiar left-back role after being fielded in the middle of the park. It was as if you were watching the Wai Loon of old. The man on loan from Lion City Sailors made important challenges in defence and used his pace to beat Irwan Shah on several occasions. I bet you that Kim Do Hoon and Lion City Sailors would be pleased.
Yes, Mehmedović’s Tampines Rovers may have conceded 5 goals but you can’t deny the Serbian’s impact on the goal. He scored two vital goals in the first half to help keep his team in the game. Buzzing around and trying to position himself in good positions, you can’t fault Mehmedović’s efforts.
Joel Chew is always a joy to watch. You’ll never get bored watching the player because he’s such a hard worker for his team. Constantly running around to pick out teammates with critical passes, it’s a shame that his teammates did not make more of their chances. That being said, Joel has illustrated why he’s the engine in this Young Lions team.
Balestier Captain Kristijan Krajček opened the floodgates after Šime Žužul’s block shot landed to him and he converted his chance to notch his 6th goal of the season. The Croatian was also constantly supporting his compatriot Žužul upfront by making support runs and picking out other teammates during attacking movements.
The Hougang United winger was back to scoring ways and was instrumental to his side’s 2-1 victory over Geylang International over the weekend. Shawal scored the first goal of the fixture with a sweet finish following a beautiful lobbed pass by Shahfiq Ghani. He would later notch an assist himself with his diagonal pass, finding Hafiz Sujad, whose low driven shot found the bottom right corner of the net.
Take a bow, Šime Žužul. The Croatian was on fire against Tampines and after bagging a hattrick, he’s propelled himself to second place in the top scorers’ chart – just two behind Tomoyuki Doi. Žužul has been on quite the streak recently and teams need to be wary about him in the lead up to the end of the season.
Amy Recha was a nuisance for the Hougang defence and constantly whizzed past players down the flank before cutting in. Picking out good passes and finding himself in good positions, Amy is demonstrating why he deserves a call up for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup weekly. He was unlucky to have not found the back of the net more but he did convert cooly from the spot.
Of course, these are players who narrowly miss the cut. Haiqal Pashia scored a thunderous shor from outside the box to open his account with the Sailors, Luiz Júnior produced a moment of sheer magic with his tantalizing free kick and Hafiz Sujad scored an insane low driven shot.
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