Battle for the title in Singapore as Albirex Niigata take on Tampines Rovers
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Kick Off: 28 November 2020, 9:30 AM GMT
Venue: Jurong East Stadium, Singapore
Video Link: https://mycujoo.tv/en/view/event/ckhykkmgfjoq30gdrm4c4mui4
The top two sides face off in a potential championship decider with just two points between them and three games remaining in the truncated 2020 SPL season.
As with so many leagues around the world, the Singapore Premier League has had a difficult 2020 season. The league was forced to a halt, just two match weeks into the season, back in March. And like many leagues around the world, it has been tricky restarting after so many months away from the sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league has been forced to shorten the season, with the eight sides all playing each other just twice rather than the usual three. However, beyond a shortened season, the SPL has some unique challenges that they have faced.
The biggest is that the current champions DPMM FC, have been forced to pull out of the 2020 season. The reason being that DPMM FC are based in Brunei and not in Singapore. Singapore as a country had placed travel restrictions on Brunei and so it was unfeasible for the champions to attempt to defend their crown.
Singapore has a history of allowing foreign teams to join the league to make it more competitive. In 2003, Sinchi FC, a team composed of Chinese was founded as the first foreign club to be entered into the SPL. It is a testament to Singapore's cosmopolitan make up, that sides from around the world have been allowed to compete in the league. For most of the clubs in the SPL, there is a foreign player cap, but sides from other nations have been allowed to have players from their home nation play without breaking the cap. This has afforded some unique and interesting clubs to take part in the SPL.
Over the years many foreign sides have come and gone from the SPL, from China, France, Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, and even a Pan-African side, Sporting Afrique. Most of the sides only last a couple years, and with the exception of DPMM FC and a couple sides from Malaysia, all of the teams have been based in Singapore. The most successful and long lasting of these is the Japanese side Albirex Niigata.
Niigata are a development team for the J2 League side with the same name. They have been in the SPL since 2004 and have been one of the best sides in the league in recent times, having won the title three times in the last four seasons. They currently sit top of the league having won their last five matches since their last meeting with Tampines Rovers in which the Japanese side lost 2-0.
Since their last meeting, Tampines Rovers have not been as ruthless as their counterparts. The Stags have drawn three of their six matches since meeting with the Japanese side, and while they remained unbeaten in that stretch, those six dropped points have allowed Niigata to seize the initiative in the title race.
A further blow to the second most successful side in the competition's history is the absence of talisman and joint top scorer Jordan Webb. The Canadian winger who has been one of the league's most dangerous players since his arrival in 2010, is missing his second match since his sending off a week ago against Tanjong Pagar.
The Stags will be desperate to get a win at the Jurong East Stadium and avoid another second place finish in the SPL. The club, which is celebrating 75 years this season, haven't won the league since 2013 and have come second in four of the six seasons since their last victory. With only two matches remaining after this clash, Tovers know that this is their last chance to end what has been a tumultuous season on a high.
Links to the clubs various accounts are below.
Albirex Niigata FC (S)