It hasn’t been the best of weekends for the Eastside clubs, with Geylang International and Tampines Rovers getting smashed by Albirex Niigata (5-0) and Hougang United (7-3), respectively. As a result, Tampines are in a precarious position and are dangerously flirting with the prospect of missing out on continental competition next season. On Sunday, Lion City Sailors came from behind to beat Young Lions 3-1 while Balestier Khalsa recorded a rare win over Tanjong Pagar United to dent their hopes of continental qualification.
Kim Ng and I choose this week’s team of the week!
Do you agree with our picks and justifications?
GK – Hassan Sunny
Tasked with keeping out the barrage and flurry of Young Lions’s counterattacks, the Sailors custodian had to be on point for the full game, and we’d argue that he had done his job in a stellar fashion. Claiming crosses with his elite position, and producing fine, neat saves to keep the Sailors in the game, he certainly deserves a spot in our Team Of The Week.
As the Young Lions looked to attack down the wings, Tajeli Salamat had to be on high alert, and his pacey runs were on full display as he patrolled both wings well. His proficiency in long, accurate passes also added a much-needed aspect to the Sailors offense, constantly switching the play to move and shake up the Cubs’ defensive lines. The cherry on top – a pair of brilliant crosses that eventually led to Jorge Fellipe’s goal to take the lead, which brings us to…
CB – Jorge Fellipe
Jorge is establishing himself as a real fan’s favourite in his debut season with Lion City Sailors. As the title race heats up, the Sailors know they need to win every game to knock the White Swans off their perch. So a win against Young Lions was crucial. Yet, after conceding an early goal, the Sailors needed a miracle. Thankfully Jorge stepped up to the plate. Scoring a trademark headed goal in the 50th minute, the towering Brazilian gave Sailors the lead in the 85th minute by converting from a brilliant Tajeli Salamat cross. I was in the stands with Kim and it was an absolute spectacle.
LB – Yu Tokiwa
The Albirex Niigata (S) left-back was phenomenal against Geylang International. Driving down the left flank, he constantly terrorized the Eagles’ defence and also ensured that he fulfilled his defensive responsibilities in nullifying the attack. Besides winning 70% of his challenges against Geylang, he also notched an assist to his name. In the 87th minute, Tokiwa managed to dart down and after picking up Chiku’s ball, produced a low driven pass that found Taniguchi in the centre of the box. The Albirex no. 7 was not going to miss from there.
LM – Joel Chew
One would expect the Young Lions to sit back against a formidable Lion City Sailors offense, but the Cubs took the game to the title-contenders, primarily through positive and incisive attacking moves from star midfielder Joel Chew. He is proving to be a revelation this season, providing class-act performances in midfield for the team, regularly showcasing his silky touch and ball-carrying skills game-in, game-out.
CM- Hafiz Abu Sujad
The utility player was deployed as a central midfielder this past weekend against Tampines Rovers and he did well in his role. His lobbed through pass found Tomoyuki Doi in the 17th minute and the SPL leading top scorer duly found the back of the net. He capped off a fantastic evening by scoring the seventh and final Hougang United goal.
CM – Ryoya Taniguchi
The Albirex playmaker once again finds a place for himself in our team of the week. Albirex Niigata (S) cannot afford to slip up with Lion City Sailors hot on their heels. Many would have predicted that with Tsuboi’s long term injury, Albirex would struggle. Yet, while the team has collectively done well to shoulder the goal-scoring responsibility, no one has scored more than Ryoya Taniguchi. The White Swans’ no. 7 bagged a brace this week and his shot in the 30th minute ricocheted off the Geylang defense and landed in front of Fikri Junaidi, who duly converted his chance.
RM – Hazzuwan Halim
The Balestier Khalsa winger produced the goods for the Tigers as they overcame a resolute Tanjong Pagar side. Regularly dazzling around the Jaguars’ defence, he was at the right place at the right time as he managed to slot the ball past Zharfan Rohaizad. After his goal, Hazzuwan kept finding Balestier players in key positions and demonstrated his attacking prowess.
ST – Tomoyuki Doi
The Japanese hitman may have drawn a blank in his previous three outings with the Cheetahs but he more than made up for it by notching a hattrick against the Stags, with all goals coming in the first half no less. His second goal of the evening was a true collector’s item. Gilberto Fortunato lobbed the ball to Doi and the leading SPL top scorer unleashed a spectacular volley that found its way into the back of the net. Hougang United may find it impossible to keep hold of their talismanic forward come the end of the season, especially if he finishes the season with a bang.
ST – Gilberto Fortunato
The Brazilian centre-forward showed why he was one of Hougang’s highly prized recruits from the past transfer window, clocking in an impressive shift in Hougang’s 7-3 win against Tampines. Finding Tomyuki Doi on two separate occasions and Lionel Tan on one occasion, he clocked in three assists. Furthermore, he scored Hougang’s sixth goal of the match. What a way to add icing to the cake!
ST – Boris Kopitović
In what turned out to be a bizarre game of football that saw the Rovers slip further from the 3rd place spot, one bright point was the performance of their talismanic striker, Boris Kopitovic. The towering Montenegrin managed to score twice against the Cheetahs and even helped provide an assist to Zehrudin Mehmedovic. Even though his team suffered a shock defeat to the Cheetahs, Boris’s efforts during the match should not go unnoticed.
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