Game Week 4 sees all four teams in action once again with yet another barrage of goals for us to feast on. There were two fixtures on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
On Friday evening, Tampines Rovers took on Hougang United following their certainly eventful fixture against Lion City Sailors where they had two disallowed goals in a 1-0 defeat to the reigning league champions. Many would agree that Tampines was the better side, playing free-flowing football, but needed to be more clinical upfront. Against the Cheetahs, the Stags picked up where they left off, took every chance that came their way, and thumped Hougang 7-1 with Big Bad Boris claiming his first hattrick of the season.
Likewise, on Friday, last season’s SPL champions and runners-up clashed once again as Lion City Sailors took on Albirex Niigata (S). Both teams had previously met during the Community Shield a few weeks ago in a match where Sailors emerged as 2-1 victors. And there were many recurrent themes in Friday’s fixture. Once again, the Sailors had to chase the game after Albirex took the lead in the first half. Yet, this time the boys in blue could not secure a victory and had to share the spoils with the White Swans.
Saturday evening saw Tanjong Pagar United host Geylang International. The Jaguars have enjoyed a brilliant start to their 2022 campaign, topping the league after 4 games and remain the only side to be unbeaten. Against Geylang, they drew 1-1 with Reo Nishiguchi’s first-half strike being cancelled out by Hazzuwan Halim in the second half. While Tanjong Pagar would be kicking themselves for not claiming three points, credit has to be given to the Eagles for staging a comeback to come away with something from this match.
Balestier Khalsa and Young Lions battled it out in a seven-goal thriller at Toa Payoh Stadium with the Tigers edging the Cubs in a 4-3 victory. It was goals galore with end to end action making it a thrilling fixture for the neutral to feast their eyes on. Balestier’s Japanese trio shared the four goals between them while Zikos Chua, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, and Ilhan Fandi got on the scoresheet for Young Lions. Both Akbar Nawaz and Nazri Nasir would probably be asking a lot of questions of their respective defences lest they are prepared to outscore their opponents.
Nevertheless, it was an action packed weekend and here are the best players of the week!
The Lion City Sailors custodian single-handedly kept his team in the match with his remarkable reflexes and super hero-level saves. One such save came after Fairoz Hassan unleashed a venomous shot that seemed destined to hit the back of the net. Yet, Hassan managed to superbly deflect the shot for a corner. It doesn’t seem like Hassan is losing his touch anytime soon and the Sailors need him now more than ever as they try to figure out what the problem seems to be.
Chris van Huizen
Usually deployed as a traditional winger, Chris has truly reinvented himself as a formidable right-back. The Singapore Premier League veteran has done extremely well in his role. He has always been known for his ability to bombard forward and to whip in delicious crosses – which he consistently did against Hougang. However, it’s his ability to trace back and make solid tackles and nullify the Cheetahs’ offensive threat that has equally mesmerized spectators.
The Japanese left-back scored a scorcher against Lion City Sailors. It was going to take something absolutely magical to beat Hassan Sunny and Daichi Omori did just that. His 45th-minute strike swerved away from Hassan Sunny and flew straight into the back of the net to give the Swans the lead.
Against Hougang United, Shuya was once again a rock in the back. The Japanese central defender helped out his defence on numerous occasions and even though his teammates were racking up the goals, he was not complacent. With Hougang’s quality on top, the margin of victory could have been slimmer, but Shuya was there to silence the Cheetahs’ frontline.
The Stags’ midfield maestro went into overdrive against Hougang United, engineering many of the attacking movements for Tampines Rovers with crucial forward runs and precise passing. It was Kyoga’s over the top through ball that found Boris in the 11th minute to open the flood gates and he would make 2 more key passes – a sensational pass to Marc Ryan Tan and yet another to the towering Montenegrin – to claim a hattrick (of assists) of his own.
The Serbian midfield magician had an acrobatic effort ruled out against Lion City Sailors because he was judged to be offside. However, Zeko was determined as ever to move past that incident and played with immense passion. He provided a magnificent pass to Taufik Suparno in the Hougang United penalty box for the forward to tuck it into the back of the net in the 22nd minute before scoring an incredible overhead kick just before the conclusion of the first half.
The Balestier Khalsa player played a critical role in the Tigers’ 4-3 victory over Young Lions. Taniguchi helped equalize for Balestier and was instrumental in creating two other goals for his team. With a leaky defence, Balestier sure need Ryoya to be on his game for the remainder of the season to ensure that they have a creative outlet for goals.
Ong Yu En
The Stags have a hot prospect on their hands and his name is Ong Yu En. Yu En isn’t just making numbers because he’s qualified as an under-23 player but he’s really darn good and against Hougang, he put on a fine performance. His link-up play between Kyoga and Mehmedović was pretty incredible. Yu En was incredibly physical and stepped up to the plate when it mattered the most despite his relatively small size. It was a real treat to watch him play.
Big Bad Boris Koptović reminded everyone how great a threat he is upfront. The Tampines Rovers No. 9 opened the flood gates with a sensational strike in the 11th minute, spinning away from Nazrul Nazari and burying his finesse shot into the back of the net. Boris would go on to score two more goals in the 46th and 87th minute to round off the evening with a well-deserved hattrick. Boris was in fine form against Hougang and if he maintains this, the rest of the pack better be prepared.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Taufik is no longer a super-sub. He has evolved from that label and has instead established himself as a crucial player for the Tampines Rovers first team. It was yet another performance to demonstrate this evolution. Taufik dominated the left flank and was harassed the Cheetah’s defence. He was phenomenal against Sailors but he couldn’t convert his chances. Taufik wasn’t about to make the same mistakes twice and capped off the night with 2 goals and 1 assist. What a stellar display.
The Japanese winger may have had a slow start to his Balestier career but against Young Lions, did well to remind us of his immense potential. Darting down the left flank, Kondo squared it for compatriot Ryoya Taniguchi to equalize for the Tigers before notching 2 vital goals himself in Balestier’s 4-3 victory. Like Taufik, Kondo was often utilized as a super-sub for Albirex last season but this year, he seems to have cemented himself in the starting 11 for Balestier.
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