Asian Football

Our 2022 SPL Team of The Week #2 (Feat. Lions Of Asia)

We’re joined by our friends from Lions Of Asia for this week who will co-pick the team!

Another weekend flew by us as we saw witnessed entertaining fixtures that demonstrated some plausibly serious ramifications for the title race.

Kim Do Hoon reshuffled his Lion City Sailors starting eleven for their fixture against Geylang International and handed out rare starts to certain players. However, the Sailors must have underestimated their opponents as they struggled to put the ball into the back of the Geylang net. The Eagles emerged as 1-0 victors and sent a signal to the rest of the pack that the seemingly new and improved Sailors side are not as invincible as many have made them out to be.

The Albirex Niigata team that took on Balestier Khalsa on Saturday knew it needed to make amends for their first two defeats of the season – a 2-1 loss to LCS in the Community Shield and an opening day defeat to Tanjong Pagar United. The White Swans bounced back with a resounding 6-0 victory over Balestier Khalsa with Kodai Tanaka notching 4 goals. It is back to the drawing board for Akbar Nawas and co. as they look for their first win of the season.

Hougang United and Tanjong Pagar United clashed on Sunday to round up Game Week 2. While the first half was a rather dull affair, the latter stages of the fixture gifted us a remarkable flurry of goals. The Cheetahs and the Jaguars had to share the spoils in the end but it was an entertaining 2-2 draw for the neutrals catching the game.

These are the eleven players that we believe deserve a place in our team of the week!

Image Credits: Geylang International,, Hougang United, and Singapore Premier League,

The Goalkeeper

Zaiful Nizam

Zaiful Nizam is not your tallest custodian but you don’t always need to be a towering figure to be a good goalkeeper – something he reminded us of with his heroic displays this week. The Geylang skipper led by example and saved many crucial shots by the Sailors. The Sailors may have not have started their usual cast of attacking players but when they did come on, Zaidul did not flinch. He stood his ground and kept his team in it.

The Defence

Faizal Roslan

The ex-Sailors player was back to haunt his former club with a solid defensive performance. While he was mainly able to effectively deal with the Sailors’ attacks in the first half, questions were raised when Kim Shinwook took to the pitch in the second period. Yet, alongside his central defensive partner, Rio (who also makes the list), he was able to effectively nullify the threats posed by the towering South Korean international.

Rio Sakuma

After spending the 2021 season with Tiffy Army in Cambodia, Rio has returned to our little red dot and has continued from where he last left off. Alongside Faizal Roslan, the Japanese rock in the back ensured Shinwook and the other Sailors’ forwards had little impact in the game. Like Faizal, Rio intercepted key passes and was a key player in their 1-0 victory over the reigning Singapore Premier League Champions.

Jun Kobayashi

The Albirex Niigata skipper was solid in defence and snuffed out Balestier Khalsa’s forward advances. He also scored an impressive goal against the Tigers. Rising above the nearly two-meter-tall Ensar Brunčević, Kobayashi headed the ball into the back of the net for the Swans’ sixth goal of the evening. We hope that the White Swans’ captain continues this form for the rest of the season!

The Midfield

Vincent Bezecourt

The former New York Red Bulls player had a stellar debut for Geylang International. He certainly stole the show with his wonder strike in the 9th minute of the fixture but it was his incredible work rate and movement off the ball that captured the hearts of the Eagles’ faithful. Vincent Bezecourt could have added more to his tally and while he did not, he was a constant threat to the Sailors’ defence. If his debut performance was anything to go by, Geylang have done well to find a new midfield talisman following Barry Maguire’s departure from the club.

Kaishu Yamazaki

Last week Kaishu was on our “Honourable Mentions” Bench but this week he performed really well for Hougang United. He engineered Hougang United’s second goal from start to finish, with the Japanese midfielder burying the ball into the back of the net. While the other foreign player cards have been flipped, Kaishu has been retained by the Cheetahs and it isn’t hard to see why. Besides scoring the important second goal, his movement off the ball was crucial for Hougang.

Mirko Šugić

The Jaguars midfield maestro was orchestrating important forward passes for his side and it was his through ball that found Shodai unmarked down the right flank. With Blake Ricciuto alongside him, Mirko had the freedom to supply balls to his teammates and once again, we saw glimpses of what he is capable of doing. He may have not provided the assists for both Tanjong Pagar goals but one cannot deny his contributions against the Cheetahs.

Kan Kobayashi

The Japanese playmaker was instrumental in setting up two of Albirex’s six goals. In a nutshell, Kan Kobayashi was a menace to the Balestier Khalsa backline. It was his perfectly executed lobbed pass that found Tanaka in the 34th minute that goal opened the floodgates. With Kobayashi having such an amazing passing range, expect more assists from the talented midfielder this season.

The Forwards

Šime Žužul

The Croatian hitman did not get on the scoresheet this Game Week but he was arguably Geylang’s most important player. Žužul often bulldozed past the Sailors’ defence with his sheer physicality and he gave Hariss Harun a tough time by harassing the Sailors and National Team skipper whenever he had the ball. If the Eagles can better capitalize on Žužul’s hold up play, they would pose a real threat to whichever team they come up against.

Kodai Tanaka

The Albirex Niigata signing may have had a lacklustre first fixture but surely made up for it in his second appearance for the White Swans. Tanaka bagged 4 goals and even set up an assist for their marquee signing, Tadanari Lee. Many would have assumed that Lee was the player that would light up this Albirex side this season but we think it’s their new no. 11 that is going to be the one that you must watch this campaign.

Khairul Nizam

When Khairul Nizam stepped onto the pitch in the second half, the striker displayed flashes of what he was capable of producing and in the 71st minute, he opened his account for the Jaguars. Finding himself in familiar poaching territory, he positioned himself well to grant the Jaguars the lead. Khairul was also instrumental in the Tanjong Pagar United equalizer. Drawing two Hougang defenders to him, his movement off the ball allowed Shodai to be freed up and score the Jaguars’ second goal.

The Bench [Honourable Mentions]

Image Credits: Geylang International and Singapore Premier League

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