Asian Football

Our 2022 SPL Team of The Week #5

The Singapore Premier League was back in action following a two-week international break that saw the Lions edge past Malaysia and the Philippines in the Tri-Nation Series. With great results at the national stage, we hoped that this would translate into higher quality fixtures over the weekend.

Friday evening saw Lion City Sailors take on Balestier Khalsa, and Kim Do Hoon’s men looked to have figured things out with a convincing 4-0 thumping of the Tigers, who could do little to cope with Kim Shin-wook’s aerial threat. Friday evening also saw Hougang United draw 1-1 with Albirex Niigata (S). It was a great team effort by the Cheetahs as they clawed back and scored the equalizer through Sahil Suhaimi.

Saturday evening was even more entertaining with Tampines Rovers and Tanjong Pagar United both clinching 3-2 victories over Geylang International and Young Lions, respectively. The Eastern Derby saw a wonder strike from Big Bad Bori Kopitović which gave the Stags the win, while Faizal Raffi was hailed as a super-sub hero for grabbing the winner for the Jaguars.

It was indeed an entertaining weekend and here are the best players from Game Week 5!

Image Credits: Singapore Premier League, Tanjong Pagar United, Geylang International, Young Lions, and Hougang United

The Goalkeeper

Zaiful Nizam

He may have conceded three goals but against a side that slotted 7 past, Zaiful Nizam was a key reason for Tampines Rovers to not score more. In all fairness as well, it required something truly special to beat the Eagles custodian and, unfortunately for Zaiful, Boris produced a wonder strike to beat him towards the end of the campaign. A really crushing blow to Geylang and Zaiful in particular, who was making a slew of saves and blocks.

The Defence

Faritz Hameed

The Tanjong Pagar skipper led by example as he fought hard for his side, working tirelessly to find Tanjong Pagar’s equalizers. It was thus unsurprising that he had a hand in the Jaguars’ first two goals. It was Fairtz’s drooping cross that caused miscommunication between Jacob Mahler and Syahrul Sazali, and Khairul Amri duly capitalized on the situation to equalize for the Jaguars. Faritz would also add his name on the score sheet as well, heading in the Jaguars’ second goal from a Raihan Rahman setpiece.

Pedro Henrique

The 1.9m-tall Brazilian central defender returns to the Lion City Sailors side and his presence truly shored up his team’s defence. Pedro was a real rock in the back as he helped Sailors shut down Balestier Khalsa, making important tackles and challenges. Interestingly, Pedro won 7 out of 8 challenges, and his interceptions helped ensure that his side kept a clean sheet. We hope he builds momentum with the AFC Champions League around the corner.

Zulqarnaen Suzliman

The Young Lions fullback had a solid showing once again and he opened the floodgates in the opening minutes of the fixture. Darting down the left flank, Zulqarnaen received the ball from Syahrul Sazali and slotted it past Zharfan Rohaizad to give Young Lions the lead. Zul also forced the Jaguars to concede a penalty at the half-hour mark, which Ilhan Fandi converted to make it 2-1 to the Cubs. An overall solid display from the fullback.

The Midfield

Kyoga Nakamura

The Tampines Rovers midfield maestro was once again pulling strings for the Stags, buzzing around the middle of the park. Kyoga played an integral part in the Stags second and third goal as well. His cross (or shot) in the 66th minute landed to Chris van Huizen who tucked it away to equalize for the Stags. Some 20 minutes later, Kyoga was back at it again, finding Boris at the edge of the Geylang penalty box and the Montenegrin produced a world-class strike.

Song Ui-young

The Singapore international had a brilliant spell for the Lions during the Tri-Nation Series and continued that fine form into Game Week 5 with a sensational display against Balestier Khalsa. It was as if we were watching the Song of old, as he expressed himself and was a constant menace to the Tigers. The versatile player even bagged a goal in the 27th minute and helped his side to a resounding 4-0 victory. He will be key in their upcoming AFC Champions League campaign.

Shawal Anuar

Shawal Anuar’s work ethic against the White Swans was truly remarkable as he was drawing the Albirex Niigata (S) defenders away and making life living hell for them with his skilful dribbling. The Hougang United forward also did well to find Sahil Suhaimi, who tucked away Shawal’s pass into the back of the net.

Masahiro Sugita

Masahiro Sugita demonstrated great pace and tremendous skill against the Cheetahs. The Albirex Niigata (S) winger scored a brilliant goal against Hougang custodian Ridhuan Barudin. Tadanari Lee squared it to Sugita just before the stroke of halftime and the winger lobbed it into the back of the net.

The Forwards

Boris Kopitović

Big Bad Boris showed his prowess upfront once again with a terrific performance against bitter Eastern Derby rivals Geylang. The towering Montenegrin converted from the spot-kick to equalize for the Stags, mere minutes after Geylang took the lead. Boris appeared threatening throughout the fixture and you had a sneaking feeling that he would have something to add before the final whistle. And what a strike it was! Boris executed a first-time finesse shot that curled beyond the reach of Zaiful Nizam and into the back of the net.

Kim Shin-wook

Kim Shin-wook has been relatively silent the past few fixtures, only registering two goals in the previous 4 SPL games. Many expected him to light up the league given his pedigree and were surprised that he wasn’t banging in the goals. Yet, against Balestier Khalsa, he silenced his doubters with a sensational hat-trick that saw him leapfrog to third place in the SPL goalscoring charts. It seems like Lion City Sailors are finally gelling well together and you can expect the gargantuan South Korean international to be scoring more goals.

Maxime Lestienne

The Belgian winger was a key figure for the Sailors in their 4-0 thumping of Balestier Khalsa. You could see that Maxime was going into overdrive for his club and he was sprinting up and down the flanks to supply great passes to his teammates and even had an assist himself. It’s a fantastic to see Maxime finally settle down.

Honourable Mentions

Image Credits: Singapore Premier League, Hougang United and Young Lions

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