Asian Football

Our 2022 SPL Team of The Week #1

We’ve decided to bring back the Team Of The Week series for yet another season!

The Singapore Premier League has finally returned and we were once again delighted to another weekend of thrills and spills. Albirex Niigata (S) suffered a shock defeat to Tanjong Pagar United as the Jaguars held firmly to their lead, denied the Swans several times, and emerged as 2-0 victors. Saturday evening saw Tampines Rovers and Balestier Khalsa settle for a 2-2 draw in a game which was really a tale of two halves – Tampines the stronger side in the first 45 minutes, while the Tigers were more dominant in the latter half. Hougang United faced Lion City Sailors on Sunday evening and while the Cheetahs may have scored the first goal through new signing Pedro Bortoluzo, the Sailors came from behind to claim three points. With this season having 28 games -7 more than the previous campaign – and if the events this weekend are an indicator of things to follow, there is a lot to look forward to!

The following eleven players have done enough in our opinions to gain a place in our first team of the week of 2022!

Image Credits: Singapore Premier League, Balestier Khalsa, Tanjong Pagar United, Lion City Sailors, and Tampines Rovers.

The Goalkeeper

Hassan Sunny

Hassan ages like fine wine, doesn’t he? The older he gets, the better he is. Once again, the Lion City Sailors custodian was the hero of the day. He was making critical saves against Hougang United and while he was beaten by Pedro Boroluzo once, he kept everything else out. Hassan ensured that his side was not going to be beaten by the Cheetahs, who mounted some threatening attacks in the latter half of the game, only for the Sailors custodian to shut them out.

The Defence

Fathullah Rahmat

The young talented midfielder did remarkably well as a centre-back for the Jaguars. Against top-notch opposition like Albirex Niigata, Fathullah held himself well. Blocking important shots and making crucial tackles, could we see the hot prospect play a more defensive role this season with Mirko Sugic seemingly taking the position he played last year.

Ensar Brunčević

The towering Serbian notched an important equalizer against Tampines Rovers to help the Tigers to a 2-2 draw. He put the ball into the back of the net after some scrappy defending by the Stags. Alongside Delwinder Singh, Ensar did well defensively as well in the second half to snuff out attacks and the Tigers benefited from his physical presence.

Faritz Hameed

The Tanjong Pagar skipper is more accustomed to a right-back but has recently shifted to the central defensive position. Last year, he was playing alongside Delwinder Singh and Shakir Hamzah in a formidable three-man defence. But this year, Del has left to Balestier and Shakir is sidelined for the bulk of the season. Despite this, the veteran defender showed real class and composure against the White Swans and was crucial in securing the clean sheet.

The Midfield

Blake Ricciuto

El Loco stabilized the Tanjong Pagar United midfield and snuffed out the White Swans’ attack through fantastic positioning and chasing down loose balls. Blake’s presence truly stabilized the Jaguars’ midfield as he hollered instructions to his teammates and did the dirty work for his teamS This allowed Mirko Sugic to bombard forward and make those two amazing over the top through balls to Reo Nishiguchi.

Mirko Šugić

The Croatian midfield maestro looked great alongside Blake in the middle of the park for the Jaguars. Noh Alam Shah had previously shared how his forward passing ability was pretty amazing and we got to see first-hand what he can do when given the ball. He supplied two amazing assists to Reo Nishiguchi and he looks to be a menace for other SPL sides if he continues to find space and makes such contributions to the team.

M. Anumanthan

In his first competitive start for the club, Anu was brilliant for the Sailors made his presence known in the midfield battle zone. Using his pace, Anu was a nuisance for his former employers by harassing the Hougang players. On top of expertly carrying out his defensive duties, Anu was making essential passes to his teammates to build up attacks. An overall solid display by the Singapore international.

Diego Lopes

The Brazilian magnifico was the first real high profile foreign signing that the club made last season. He reminded us why he was the first signing that essentially separated the Sailors from the rest of the pack. The first multi-million dollar SPL player is truly establishing himself as a super-sub as he came on in the second half with immense energy. Diego helped orchestrate the first goal by finding Hafiz Nor down the right flank and scored the important third goal to provide an important safety cushion to the Sailors for the three points.

The Forwards

Reo Nishiguchi

The Japanese ace bagged a brace against his former club as he began the season with a high. Of course, it’s only early days but Reo must probably be relishing the fact he is leading the goal-scoring charts right now. The Jaguars forward is most definitely motivated by former teammate, Tomoyuki Doi’s exploits last season and knows that if he churns out consistent performances like this, the golden boot is his for the taking.

Taufik Suparno

Taufik Suparno has always been known as a super-sub but it seems like the forward will shake off this tag for the 2022 campaign. Against Balestier Khalsa, the Stags’ forward helped to create the first goal with a quick pass near the edge of the box to Kyoga Nakamura, who squared it for Boris to break the deadlock. Taufik also scored an important second goal with a brilliant header. Amirul Haikal whipped in a delicious cross and Taufik rose above his marker to head in Tampines Rovers’ second goal of the evening.

Kim Shin-wook

Close to two meters tall, the Korean international forward helped Sailors get back into the game after conceding early. Just like his first goal in the Charity Shield, Kim Shinwook once again scored in what appeared to be an effortless header. His imposing physical stature is going to be a massive problem for the rest of the pack this season with perhaps only Ensar Brunčević having the height to deal with Kim’s aerial prowess.

Honourable Mentions

Image Credits: Balestier Khalsa, Tanjong Pagar United, and Hougang United

Featured Image Credits: Singapore Premier League, Balestier Khalsa, Tanjong Pagar United, Lion City Sailors, and Tampines Rovers.

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