Eleven Sailors’ Women in Lioness squad

The Singapore National Women’s team has come together to prepare for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers, with coach Stephen Ng calling up a 23-strong Lioness squad that features 11 players from the Lion City Sailors’ Women’s team (Photo above courtesy of the Football Association of Singapore). 

The Lionesses face a unique challenge, taking on Indonesia in Group C over two matches – scheduled for 24 and 27 September – in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with the team that amasses the most points from these fixtures earning a spot in the tournament proper in India next year. 

This is the result of the other two teams in Group C – DPR Korea and Iraq – withdrawing from the competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If both Singapore and Indonesia are level on points after the 27 Sept fixture, they will undergo a penalty shootout to determine the winner. 

“The Sailors’ women’s team managed to maintain our thrice a week training schedule throughout the past two years despite the pandemic restrictions that were placed on all teams, and our players are physically well prepared,” said Yeong Sheau Shyan, head coach of the Sailors’ women.  

“We’ve also focused on individual skills in tight areas so our players are more confident in 1v1s and crowded areas,” added Sheau Shyan who is also on national duty as an assistant coach of the Lionesses. 

She revealed that the Lionesses have not had any international encounters for almost two years now, and it will be hard to predict what sort of team Indonesia will put out, and how they will play. 

“We expect them to be tough opponents, but on our part we have put in a lot of work. We have trained five times a week since June – in a training bubble – to make sure we are as prepared as we can be,” said Sheau Shyan.

Sailors’ Lionesses: Beatrice Tan, Ernie Sulastri, Nur Syazwani Ruzi, Nur Umairah Hamdan, Dorcas Chu, Ho Hui Xin, Venetia Lim, Nur Izzati Rosni, Sara Merican, Lila Tan, Danelle Tan


First a Singaporean, now a Lion poised to roar

Barely a week after attaining his Singapore citizenship earlier this month, Song Ui-Young received his first call-up to the Singapore National Team for a series of training sessions during the ongoing FIFA international window.

It was a dream come true for the 27-year-old, who first stepped foot in Singapore nearly 10 years ago as a wide-eyed teenager who was simply hoping to establish his career as a professional footballer here.

Now, Song is chomping at the bit to repay the faith that the country has shown – on the pitch as a Lion – but is simply lapping up every bit of his first sessions as a Lion-in-waiting. 

It was like being a young footballer all over again. 

“I was honestly nervous the night before my first training session. I kept tossing and turning on the bed, and found it hard to get to sleep!” he admitted. “But when I finally stepped onto the pitch, I felt right at home. Everyone, from my teammates to the staff, to coach Tatsuma Yoshida has been wonderful to me since day one.”

Song joins fellow Sailors Hassan Sunny, Amirul Adli, Nur Adam Abdullah, Tajeli Salamat, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman, Saifullah Akbar, Hafiz Nor, Gabriel Quak and Faris Ramli in Yoshida’s squad that was released by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on 26 August.

“They all gave me a very warm welcome to the team, which I really appreciated. They’re all great to work with, and I’ve really been enjoying myself so far,” added the Sailors midfielder. 

It wasn’t until around 2015 that Song, having by then formed a deep affinity and connection to Singapore, first began thinking about the possibility of donning the Lions jersey.

With that goal in mind, Song embarked on the long – and at times, arduous – process of applying for Singapore citizenship.

The rest, as they say, is history.

And Song is now focused on writing a new chapter of his career – and life – and enjoying the challenges of the process. 

“I’m still trying to understand and get up to speed with coach Tatsuma’s playing philosophy and tactics. It will take some time, but I’m doing my best to try and get myself familiar with how he wants us to play,” said Song. “But I’ve learnt a lot of new things from coach Tatsuma, which is great, because this means that I’m improving as a player”

Song has set his sights on the next target of his budding international career: winning the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship – now known as the Suzuki Cup – with Singapore.

“If I can help to win the (Suzuki Cup) tournament for my country, I will be happier than anyone else!” said Song, who is the first footballer from South Korea to be granted Singapore citizenship.

“It’s a big honour to get called up for the National Team, and I will work hard and do my best to show what I can do. Hopefully, that will be enough for coach (Tatsuma) to select me for the Suzuki Cup at the end of the year.”

Song, however, knows that the competition to break into the Lions first-team will be fierce, especially with stalwarts such as his Sailors teammates Hariss Harun and Shahdan Sulaiman having already established themselves as key members of Singapore’s midfield.

“I want to be at the top of my game so that I can help the Lions in the best way I can.” he said.

Nonetheless, Song believes that the strong understanding he has formed with Hariss and Shahdan at club level will stand him in good stead, and more importantly, benefit the Lions as they look to win their fifth AFF Championship this year.

Song, who has scored three goals so far this season, explained: “I have been playing with many of the National Team players for a long time, so there won’t be any problems working together with them. The understanding and connection between all of us is strong, and we believe in one another.

“The great thing is that I believe we have a group of talented players in the Lions squad. All of these players have different strengths, and are committed professionals, so I am confident that we can do well as a team.”

The last time Singapore won the AFF Championship was in 2012 – coincidentally, the same year that Song first came to Singapore.

While admitting that it will not be easy for Singapore to see off the likes of Vietnam and Thailand to become champions of Southeast Asia, Song is confident that the Lions have the talent within their ranks to go all the way in the competition.

And Song himself is determined to do all he can to bring glory to Singapore – as a way of thanking the country and his supporters for believing in him.

“I’m so grateful to have received a lot of support from football fans in Singapore over the years, and I’m determined to repay them for their belief in me by working hard and playing well for the Lions,” Song declared.

“Now, what I’m looking forward to the most next is playing my first match for Singapore, in front of the fans – I’m sure that will be such an exciting experience, and I can’t wait to perform on the pitch for them!” he added. 

“The experience overall has been an absolute dream for me. Wearing the Singapore jersey feels especially amazing, and it gives me that extra motivation to work harder every day in training.”



Sailors rue lapse in concentration in frustrating 1-1 draw

As the final whistle sounded at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night (27 August), shoulders sagged, and hands immediately went onto hips, as eyes looked down at the turf. 

The Lion City Sailors endured a frustrating evening in a 1-1 draw with Hougang United in the Singapore Premier League (SPL), and while they rescued a point late on, the draw seemed to have the feel of a defeat. 

The result handed the title initiative back to league leaders Albirex Niigata (S). The Sailors are now five points behind the reigning champions, with a game in hand and just five matches left to play. 

On Friday, the Sailors peppered the Hougang goal, chalking a total of 25 shots, but in a lapse of concentration, went behind to a 51st minute Anders Aplin header – Hougang’s only shot on target on the night. 

“After the game, the coach told us that if we want to be champions, we have to overcome this tendency of giving away soft goals,” said Faris Ramli. “I cannot say we didn’t defend well during the game – we did – but that one moment, that one lapse, cost us the three points. 

“We really cannot afford to keep conceding cheap goals and we know that. We just need to get back on the training ground, work even harder and try to defend better as a team,” added the 29-year-old.

Hougang clearly set up shop to pack their backline and limit the space, and the Sailors were unable to find clear inroads with Croatian hot shot Stipe Plazibat often tightly marked whenever he entered the Cheetahs’ box.

Early into the second half, Kim Do-hoon’s men were hit with a Hougang sucker punch. Kaishu Yamazaki’s deep free-kick into the area found Aplin, who jumped uncontested to nod the visitors ahead. 

The Sailors rallied after going behind, with the introduction of Hafiz Nor – who replaced Saifullah Akbar – proving to be an inspired move, with the winger making an impact just four minutes after coming on. 

Charging down the right flank, the 33-year-old gave Yamazaki the slip, then bamboozled Aplin before putting in a tantalizing cross for Stipe to head home the equaliser. 

But like Faris, Hafiz was gutted that the Sailors did not get the victory they were gunning for. 

“Watching the game from the bench, I couldn’t wait to come on, I knew I could do something,” said the Singapore international. “I gave it my all and followed the coach’s instructions to just attack defenders head-on. 

“I’m happy that my efforts paid off with an assist, but it’s really frustrating to not get a win.”

The Sailors piled on the pressure late in the game, and Kim’s charges almost found a way past the resolute Hougang defence deep into injury time. First, Jorge Fellipe’s goal bound header was denied by a top-drawer save by Izwan Mahbud. 

Then seconds later, Faris was denied what could have been a winner against his old employers. His low drive looked set to nestle in the bottom left corner, but ex-teammate Nazrul Nazari appeared from nowhere to clear off the line.  

“It was nice to see familiar faces and old friends again, but once we stepped onto the pitch we understood the need to maintain a distance during the game – it’s work,” said Faris. “Also it was such an important game for my team that I didn’t focus on the fact that I was playing against my old club. I just wanted to get the victory for us, but it didn’t happen. 

“I guess Nazrul is someone who quite understands my play, and he probably knew where I was going to shoot,” rued the 2019 SPL Player of the Year. We tried everything and gave our all, but sometimes things just don’t go our way and the ball just doesn’t go in.”

Despite the disappointing result, the fate of the SPL trophy still lies in Sailors’ hands. The equation remains the same: if the Sailors can win their final five games – which includes a crunch clash against Albirex on September 17 – they will be crowned league champions. 

Faris has seen enough positives from the team to believe that the Sailors will be able to last the distance. 

“We’ve been improving our understanding as a team. You can see from the way we move together and cover each other during games,” he explained. “As long as we continue in this manner and listen to Coach’s instructions, there will be good things for us at the end of the season.”

As for Hafiz, the return of fans – up to 1,000 fans are now allowed at SPL matches –  is something he believes will give players an extra push going into the business end of the season, and perhaps even spur the Sailors on to break the six-year SPL dominance of foreign teams, Albirex and Brunei’s DPMM FC.  

“There was a fantastic atmosphere at Jalan Besar tonight and it’s so nice to see all the fans coming down to support us,” he said. “They gave us that extra boost, especially when we have to chase a game.

“Hopefully we continue to see such healthy attendances at games to give us further motivation. We really want to be the first local team to win the SPL after so many years.”


Community News

Sailors salute Singapore’s Healthcare Heroes

They stood firm on the frontlines of Singapore’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, and continue to serve the nation even as Singapore starts to loosen restrictions. 

The Lion City Sailors stand with Singapore in saluting the healthcare workers of our country. 

The Sailors invite Singapore’s healthcare heroes to this Friday’s Singapore Premier League (SPL) fixture against Hougang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium to catch the action – for free. 

And in the spirit of going the extra mile as several of our healthcare workers do, the Sailors would also like to go a little further and offer free 15-minute shoulder massages to our healthcare heroes in the stadium.

“We are wildy appreciative of our healthcare workers’ service to the nation and all the sacrifices that they have made in keeping Singapore safe,” said Sailors Chief Executive Officer, Chew Chun-Liang. 

“Even though it is just a small gesture, we felt that the Sailors must try and serve our healthcare heroes just as they’ve served us – hence our offer of shoulder massages in the stadium, as a token of our gratitude to the people who shouldered a key facet of the work in keeping Singapore safe,” added Chun-Liang.

“To our healthcare heroes: please come and enjoy the match – on us. The Sailors thank you for your service.” 

To redeem match tickets, healthcare workers simply have to show ticketing staff any form of work identification, such as a staff pass. Healthcare workers can then register their interest for massages with staff on the ground who provide more details. Conditions for entry as stipulated by the Football Association of Singapore, in accordance with Sport Singapore guidelines must be met. 


Sailors set to welcome more fans to Jalan Besar

This Friday (27 August) the Lion City Sailors will allow up to 1,000 fans to the Jalan Besar Stadium to watch the Singapore Premier League (SPL) match against Hougang United. While the previous venue limit was 500, the increase in numbers took effect from 19 Aug, in accordance with Sport Singapore (SportSG) guidelines. 

Ticketing Information

1000 Tickets Available

Ticket Categories

Season Pass 2020 & 2021 – Complimentary

Adult – $15

Concession – $5

Each Season Pass is entitled to redeem 2 tickets.

*Concession tickets are applicable to the following, with Concession Cards and a recent Photo ID requested upon entry for verification purposes.

– Students aged 16 and below with a valid Student Concession Card,

– Senior Citizens aged 60 and above with a valid Senior Citizen Concession Card.

Ticket Sales

North Entrance of Jalan Besar Stadium

1745hrs-1815hrs: Exclusive for 2020 and 2021 Season Pass Holders

1815hrs-1945hrs: General Sale and Season Pass Holders

*First 100 Season Pass holders who redeem tickets will get an exclusive Lion City Sailors towel.

Conditions of Entry

The following conditions must be met for entry to SPL matches:

  1. Individuals must have completed the full vaccination regimen including the two-week (14 days) period after the second dose for the vaccination to take effect. Eligible vaccines include the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine in the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL), including Sinovac-CoronaVac, Sinopharm, and AstraZeneca.
  2. Fans who produce proof of a negative Antigen Rapid Test (ART) result, will also be allowed entry. The ART must be valid until the end of the event and must be taken at a Ministry of Health-certified ART practitioner; self-test kit results will not be valid for use of entry.
  3. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 will be exempted from having to produce a negative ART result, but will need to present a Pre-Event Test Exemption Notice from any clinic offering ART or PCR testing services.
  4. Fans are required to produce proof of their completed vaccination status via the TraceTogether or the HealthHub app on their mobile phone, proof of negative ART test or Pre-Event Test Exemption Notice along with a valid form of identification such as NRIC or driver’s licence for verification purposes.
  5. Individuals aged 12 years and below are allowed entry for SPL capped at 20% of the actual event size.



A Singaporean Song

He placed his hand at the centre of his chest, then pulled it down to his gut, making a tight fist as he did so. 

“It felt really strange, like something deep inside here was changing. I knew that I was nervous before going into the room, but I was still surprised by the strong emotion,” said Song Ui-young. 

“My voice was shaky, and my hands too. I still can’t quite describe it, but I felt my identity was changing, like I was becoming a different person.” 

The Lion City Sailors midfielder was indeed going through a metamorphosis – reciting the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty (ORAL) – to become a Singapore citizen. 

Recounting the moments on Friday (20 August) as he uttered the words that would confirm his Singaporean status at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority Building on Kallang Road, Song still struggled to verbalise his emotions. 

“Before I went into the room, the officer said to me: “From now on, you are a Singaporean”. And hearing that somehow made all this real,” he said. “And it was really emotional.” 

Song knew precious little of the Lion City when he first arrived as a teenager to join Home United – the previous iteration of the Sailors – in 2012, and recalled being terribly uncomfortable here. 

But a few short years after picking up English and being able to assimilate with teammates and friends, Singapore very quickly found a place in the heart of the 28-year-old who has spent his entire adult life in Singapore.  

“I spoke to the club management at the end of 2015, asking them for advice on how I can apply for citizenship. I knew I wanted to sink my roots here, because whenever I returned to Singapore after visiting my family in South Korea – it felt like I was coming back to the place I was most comfortable,” he said. 

And having finally succeeded in making Singapore his home, Song had several to thank for the support on his journey to citizenship. He pointed to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), Sport Singapore (SportSG), the Sailors, and the Yio Chu Kang Grassroots Organisation as key supporters. 

“They helped me with strong letters of support, and for that I’m grateful. I’m also humbled by the support I’ve received from my teammates, Singapore football fans, and even the local media,” said Song. 

 “It felt like I was already being supported – and welcomed – by so many Singaporeans.” 

This support that Singaporeans have shown for its own, and loyalty to the nation, was a facet of the country that still inspires Song, who recalled the outpouring of emotion – and unity – as Singapore mourned the death of Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 2015. 

“Watching people come out onto the streets in the rain, saying thank you, even crying was unbelievable for me – there was so much feeling for the Prime Minister and for the country. I have never seen that before.” he said. 

“Now I’m proud to call myself Singaporean, and of course I want to play for the national team, he said, with a broad smile. “I want to do something for my country.”

In the decade he has plied his trade in Singapore football, Song has proven to be an asset across the pitch. First as a lungless defensive midfielder protecting the backline, then flourishing in a more attacking role. 

He scored 20 goals in 27 games in 2018 – a prolific return for an attacking midfielder – then followed that up with 11 goals in 25 games the year later. His stats in the Sailors’ inaugural year in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) was no less impressive – nine goals in 11 games, and even while struggling for game time in a 2021 squad that now includes $2.9 million signing Diego Lopes, Song started the year as the club’s top scorer with three goals in the opening three games. 

“I know I have to prove myself to the national coach, and show that I deserve a place in the Lions. After all, I was not part of any naturalisation programme,” said Song. 

“But I fought to get citizenship because I want to make Singapore my home. I have grown up as a person and a footballer in Singapore – I’ve spent my entire 20s here – and it will be a great honour to contribute to Singapore.” 

China-born forward Qiu Li was the last footballer to be naturalised and eligible to play for the Lions in 2010.

Song candidly admitted that there will always be some Korean-ness about him, but there is much of the Singaporean way that has already seeped into his psyche and sunk roots. 

“I will always like kimchi, but my usual breakfast is kopi or kopi-o kosong and kaya toast at the kopitiam,” he said. 

“When I told my friend that I’m now scared of doing something wrong or breaking the law because I’m Singaporean, he laughed at me,” said Song, who immediately burst out laughing. 

He struggled to stifle a few hearty guffaws before finishing his sentence: “He told me that if I’m kiasi, I’m definitely Singaporean.” 


Sailors determined to roll on after dominant victory over Tampines

Fourth time’s the charm for the Lion City Sailors as they finally managed to defeat Singapore Premier League (SPL) title rivals Tampines Rovers after three unsuccessful tries since their inception in 2020. 

The 4-1 victory at Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday night (15 August) was as convincing as it got, with the Sailors largely dominant at both ends of the pitch even with the absence of the Brazilian duo of Jorge Fellipe (suspension) and Diego Lopes (injury). 

The victory puts the Sailors just three points behind league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) with a game in hand – and with better goal difference – the Sailors are determined to carry the momentum from this victory forward in their quest for the league title. 

“For sure, the atmosphere and vibe in the team is very good now,” said Gabriel Quak, who opened the scoring on the evening with a  classy 34th minute lob. “We’ve to continue working hard to put further pressure on Albirex. The title race is still quite open now and we’re not ruling out Tampines and Hougang United. The good thing is we’re in control of our own destiny now and that’s a positive.”

There also were several positives in the Sailors’ performance on an evening the league were able to welcome up to 500 fans to each match.

Leading 2-0 at the break after quick-fire goals late into the first half (34th minute and 36th min), Kim Do-hoon’s men picked up where they left off in the second period, with another brace in rapid succession (46th and 48th min) to effectively end the game as a contest. 

Tampines did pull one back through Boris Kopitović just before the hour mark, but the Sailors would see out the game comfortably, delivering Kim’s first victory since taking charge in late June. 

The slick football and dominant display that came from a masterful execution of Kim’s tactical plan gave the most satisfaction to the Sailors. 

“The performance showed exactly what we’ve been working on in training for the past few weeks under Coach Kim,” said Faris Ramli, who played a starring role, with three assists for the four Sailors’ goals.  

“It was pleasing to see the whole team working well together – that is why we managed to execute whatever we’ve trained to. We worked our socks off to the extent that almost everyone was talking about cramps after the game – that was the level of commitment we put in.”

Echoing his sentiments was Gabriel, who believes the victory is a culmination of the hard work of all in the Sailors’ camp. 

“It’s definitely a comprehensive win for us and credit goes to everyone involved with the club,” said the 30-year-old.

“From the head coach to the backroom staff, everyone did their part this past week – that’s why we managed to produce such a convincing performance.”  

Gabriel’s opening goal came as a result of some intelligent play by Croatian frontman Stipe Plazibat, who dropped deep into midfield before producing a measured pass that split the Tampines defence wide open. It looked like a well-worked move right off the training ground – except that it was not. 

“The lead up to that goal was down to how our game has been evolving,” explained the 2020 SPL Player of the Year. “There were a couple of goals I’ve scored in this manner and it’s down to the understanding that we’ve built over time. I’ve to thank Stipe for that lovely pass to set us on the way to victory.”

Gabriel’s goal set the stage for the Sailors’ win, with Faris then taking centrestage, his execution of defensive duties as well as creativity driving the team to what was an emphatic victory over fellow title challengers. 

After two perfectly-weighted passes for Stipe and Saifullah Akbar to score on either side of the break, it was his anticipation and industry that enable him to steal the ball off Kyoga Nakamura before teeing up Stipe for the Croatian’s second of the night and the Sailors’ fourth. 

With that, Faris became the second player after Tampines’ Armin Bošnjak to chalk up three assists in a single game this season and it was a feat that did not dawn upon him until the dust had settled. 

“I didn’t even think of the assists during the game because the most important thing was to get us the three points,” said the 2019 SPL Player of the Year. “It was only after the game when my teammates were telling me about it when I realised.” 

A huge part of this victory must be attributed to Kim, who identified the loopholes and weaknesses of a strong Stags side for the Sailors to take full advantage. 

Gabriel said the South Korean’s game plan was “executed to perfection”, while Faris enjoyed the opportunity to play a roving role in a fluid tactical system. 

“He wanted me to harass them in the middle and win balls in that area, and as a result, I was not always in the same position,” revealed Faris. “We all had to do that, so everyone needed to be really in sync with each other. 

“When I’m not in a certain position, someone else needs to take up the space I left behind, and I need to do the same as well, filling a position when my teammate is not there. Our roles and responsibilities can change during a game, and that’s part of the beauty about what we’re learning under Coach Kim – this tactical flexibility that can bring us to another level.”

On an individual level, the performances of both Faris and Gabriel last night were also a testament to their mental fortitude and ability to rise above challenges. 

Gabriel was hauled off before half time in last week’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Balestier Khalsa, with the Singapore international admitting it was “not a good feeling”. 

“When something like that happens, you either crack and crumble or you get going and fight again,” he said. “I didn’t like what happened that day, but it was all good after I had a talk with the Coach. 

“I can’t go into details about the conversation. All I can say is I took a slightly different approach for this game and it has helped me.”

Faris is also beginning to blossom again after a difficult first half of the season where he was unable to break into the first team. 

“As I said before, this has been the most challenging year for me. But now I feel really good under Coach Kim,” he shared. “Today I’m needed as a second striker and maybe in another game I’ll be needed on the wings. Wherever he wants me to play, I’ll do it for the team.”

And the Sailors are acutely aware that their performance levels must continue to rise if they are to meet the target of winning the league. 

“Teams are observing how we play, so it’s definitely going to be harder in the coming games and we cannot expect to win easily,” warned Faris. “But we’re feeling confident under Coach Kim. It’s not always going to be the same formation against every team and if we continue to execute his tactical plans like we did against Tampines, I believe we can achieve our target.” 

The Sailors next face Tanjong Pagar United at the Jurong East Stadium on Friday night (20 Aug), and could rise to the SPL summit before Albirex take on Young Lions on Sunday (22 Aug) evening. 


Beware the Sailors’ expanding tactical arsenal as they look to deliver Coach Kim’s first win

Two games, two draws. 

An encouraging point against defending Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions Albirex Niigata (S) was followed by a hard earned draw with Balestier Khalsa, having to dig deep before netting an injury-time leveller through a penalty.

The Lion City Sailors may not have won under Kim Do-hoon yet, but the Sailors believe this is merely a teething issue as they work towards being a multi-dimensional and unpredictable team. 

“Coach Kim wants us to be able to play multiple formations during a game. That’s something quite new to us (in Singapore football),” shared forward Faris Ramli. “Previously a change of formation may only come when someone in the team receives a red card. 

“I think what he wants to instill in our mindset is that we shouldn’t be too rigid on the pitch and that’s something which the team is in line with. He has a lot of experience (coaching in the K League and winning the Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL)) and he’s clearly always pushing to impart that knowledge to us.

“We’re progressively improving as a team and adapting to his style. Everyone’s happy in training, now it’s just a matter of translating everything we learned onto the pitch in terms of results.”

Midfielder Saifullah Akbar shares the sentiment, noting that Kim “has several variations in how he wants the team to play”. 

“Basically he wants us to be a multi-faceted team that has the ability to outwit teams at the regional level. For sure it’s been hard and intense training under him, but he has also introduced certain games during training sessions to make things interesting and help ease our minds,” added the 2020 SPL Young Player of the Year. “We have got to know him better since he took over in late June, and I’m sure the wins are coming.”

Next up for the Sailors is a huge fixture, entertaining Tampines Rovers in a battle between last season’s top two local sides on Sunday evening (15 August). Kim’s men – who are six points behind frontrunners Albirex with two games in hand – can put pressure on the league leaders and put more distance between themselves and the Stags. 

The Sailors have a score to settle with Tampines, having not been able to get a victory over them in three encounters – two draws and a defeat – since their 2020 inception. The most recent fixture was an enthralling season-opening encounter in March, with the Sailors leading 3-1 before a quick-fire Yasir Hanapi brace ensured the Stags got a share of the spoils. 

Saifullah believes the winless run against their title rivals comes as “a source of motivation”, while singling out the midfield battle between both sides as the key area that will decide the game. 

“We definitely want to beat them this time round,” said the 22-year-old. “It’s important for us to take control of the midfield where they have players like Zehrudin Mehmedović and Kyoga Nakamura. We have fantastic midfielders as well in Hariss (Harun), Shahdan (Sulaiman) and Song (Ui-young) – there are many options for us, and I believe we can win this battle if we follow coach Kim’s instructions.”

Faris noted the difficulty playing against a Tampines side under the tutelage of Gavin Lee since 2019 and now armed with the experience of playing against top Asian sides in their maiden ACL campaign in June and July.

“They’ve been under the same coach and are already accustomed to their style of play, while we had a change of coach recently. That’s the key difference,” acknowledged the 28-year-old. 

“We need to get our act together against them and show what we’re capable of. We don’t want to lose any more points after dropping four (against Albirex and Balestier) in the last two matches.”

On the personal front, there are reasons enough for Faris and Saifullah to step up and prove their worth as the league heads into the business end of the season. 

Coming home to link up with the Sailors this year after a season north of the Causeway with Terengganu FC, Faris had to stick it out in a difficult first half of 2021 where he did not manage to break into the first eleven. Now he’s beginning to find some headway under Kim and is ready to make up for lost time. 

“In my career, this is definitely the season where I had to stay the most patient as a player,” said the 2019 SPL Player of the Year, who has one goal and an assist to his name this campaign. “For me as a player, the priority is the team and the most important thing is that we’re playing to our strengths. 

“At the start of the season, I was often on the bench. I just adopted a different mindset, being patient and supporting the team in whatever way was needed. 

“I guess patience is really a virtue and now it’s starting to show. Coach Kim’s a coach who really likes to see how I play and I’m happy that he has me in his plans. Honestly I feel I have a lot more to give to the Sailors and now’s the time for me to show why I’m here. I just have to grab the opportunity with both hands.”

Enthusiastically grabbing opportunities that present themselves is a similar approach that Saifullah has adopted. 

Playing alongside top players the likes of former Benfica midfielder Diego Lopes, Harris and Shahdan is an opportunity Saifullah is making the most of on a daily basis. 

“It’s been so nice playing and learning from Diego. Sometimes there isn’t even the need to communicate on the pitch because you just know where he will be to receive the pass or to pass to you,” said the young playmaker who made his Singapore national team debut in a 4-0 defeat to Palestine in June. 

“It’s my honour to train with players like him, Hariss and Shahdan where I can pick up something from them every day. I’m happy now that I’ve beaten my scoring record from last season (two goals), but I can’t be satisfied,” said Saifullah who has already exceeded his personal tally last season with three goals and an assist thus far. 

“I know I need to continue to score and assist more to be regarded as a top player – and more importantly, I need to do my part to help the team get results and hit our target of winning the league.”


Sailors can welcome 500 fans for crunch tie against Tampines Rovers

This Sunday (15 August), the Jalan Besar Stadium is the venue for a tasty tie that could well play a big part in deciding the destination of the Singapore Premier League title – and 500 fans will be able to get a close-up view of the action as it unfolds. 

The Lion City Sailors sit second in the eight-team SPL standings just three points adrift of league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) but having played one game less. And victory over fellow title challengers Tampines Rovers – who sit in fourth spot seven points behind the Sailors with two games in hand over Albirex – on Sunday will see Kim Do-hoon’s men stay well in the hunt. 

Earlier today the Football Association of Singapore announced that up to a maximum of 500 fans – up from 100 previously – will be allowed entry to SPL matches starting on Friday (13 Aug). This follows guidelines announced by Sport Singapore (SportSG) on 7 August, in line with the government directive regarding the calibrated easing of safe management measures.

The number of permitted spectators will be further raised to 1,000 with effect from 19 August. This boost in fan numbers comes in time for another crunch fixture for the Sailors, who will host another title-challenger, Hougang United. The Cheetahs currently sit third in the table, just two points behind the Sailors. 

In order to gain entry, fans will have to produce proof of having received the full two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine in the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL); the latter includes Sinovac-CoronaVac, Sinopharm, and AstraZeneca. Individuals who have been vaccinated will only be admitted if the date of the match falls at least 14 days after their second dose.

Fans who produce proof of a negative Antigen Rapid Test (ART) result, will also be allowed entry. The ART must be valid until the end of the event and must be taken at a Ministry of Health-certified ART practitioner; self-test kit results will not be valid for use of entry.

Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 will be exempted from having to produce a negative ART result, but will need to present a Pre-Event Test Exemption Notice from any clinic offering ART or PCR testing services.

Fans will have to abide by entry requirements and safe management measures as directed by the FAS.  

Ticketing and entry process details 

Ticket Sales

1530hrs – 1600hrs: Exclusive time slot for 2020 and 2021 Lion City Sailors season pass* holders 

1600 hrs – 1730 hrs: General Sale and Season Pass

*Season pass holders will need to show their season pass to exchange for a matchday ticket, with no purchase required. First 100 season pass holders who redeem tickets will receive an exclusive Lion City Sailors face mask.


Ticket Categories 

Season Pass 2020 & 2021 – Complimentary 

Adult – $15

Concession – $5 (16 and under with valid student pass & senior citizens above the age of 60)

*Concession tickets are applicable to the following:
– Students aged 16 and below with a valid Student Concession Card,
– Senior Citizens aged 60 and above with a valid Senior Citizen Concession Card.

Concession Cards and a recent Photo ID will be requested upon entry for verification purposes.

How to Enter


  1. Go to the Jalan Besar Stadium’s South Entrance to verify vaccination status and collect wrist tag
  2. Proceed to South Entrance ticket booth to redeem or purchase ticket (Each individual can only redeem/purchase 1 ticket) 



  1. Check in via TraceTogether at north entrance 
  2. Verify vaccination status and ticket
  3. Conduct bag checks if necessary 
  4. Enjoy the match!

Sailors in disappointing draw against Balestier, but take positives from staying within touching distance of league summit

Make no mistake about it, the 1-1 draw against Balestier Khalsa at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Sunday night (8 August) was a disappointing result for the Lion City Sailors. 

Trailing league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) by four points before kickoff – but with two games in hand – the Sailors could have reduced the gap to just one point. This after watching the White Swans’ surprising first defeat of the season on Friday, falling 2-1 to Tanjong Pagar United at the Jurong East Stadium. 

In the end, Kim Do-hoon’s men had to be content with whittling down the deficit to three points, after a frustrating game in which the Sailors struggled to break down a dogged Tigers unit. 

The Sailors went 1-0 down on the hour mark through a Šime Žužul’s strike that came against the run of play, but rallied, displaying a gritty determination to get back into the game. 

Creating chance after chance, the Sailors reaped their reward five minutes into injury time when Jorge Fellipe’s goal-bound header was denied by a blatant Ensar Brunčević handball. Stipe Plazibat duly buried the resulting penalty to earn his side a share of the spoils. 

It was not the result that the Sailors wanted, but one that they can still take heart from – they are very much still within touching distance of the summit. 

“It wasn’t easy for us. The pitch was bumpy and we couldn’t really play our way of football,” explained Stipe, whose goal was his 11th of the season. “We were definitely the better team and had a few shots, but we just couldn’t find that final pass. Balestier didn’t really create one apart from that goal. 

“We upped the tempo (after conceding) to be more direct and aggressive then we got the goal to draw level. After everything that has happened in this game, we can be satisfied with this one point although we’re still disappointed not to win.”

Right back Naqiuddin Eunos echoed similar sentiments – acknowledging that the Sailors were “not able to work our attacking moves into the box” through their typical passing style of play until adopting a more direct route towards the end. 

“In the first half we were decent – we were playing our usual football without getting the results that we normally do,” explained the 24-year-old, who got his first start under Kim. “For the final 40 minutes (including the 10 minutes of injury time) after we went down, everyone pushed up – from the full-backs to the central midfielders. 

“We had a lot more chances from there and perhaps we should have just played in this manner from the start. Going more direct is not what we usually do, but sometimes you just have to do it to get a result from a difficult game like this.”

The Route One approach was exactly how Balestier got the opening goal against the Sailors, with Shuhei Hoshino’s knock-on from Zaiful Nizam’s long free-kick causing all sorts of trouble before Croatian hotshot Žužul pounced to tap into an empty net. 

Admitting that the defence “switched off” for that moment, Naqiuddin knew the team ought to have done better.

“We all know what Balestier’s strength is – they have tall players and are very good at set-pieces. We prepared throughout the week for this, but yet this happened,” said the former Singapore Under-22 player. “I think we lost focus for that second… that’s something that we have to learn from. We cannot afford to let in such easy goals.”

There were further reverberations in the process of conceding that goal, with Sailors captain Hassan Sunny suffering an unfortunate collision with the towering Jorge that left him needing lengthy medical attention. An oxygen mask was put on Hassan who was carried off the pitch on a stretcher in what was a worrying scene for all watching. The 37-year-old custodian was then rushed to the hospital with a suspected neck injury. 

Both Naqiuddin and Stipe concurred that it was “not nice” to see a teammate lying down on the pitch, almost motionless. “I didn’t even think of the goal conceded, I was just hoping he will be okay,” added Stipe. 

Rudy Khairullah deputised for Hassan in the last half-hour against the Tigers and the reliable 27-year-old may well find himself starting in next Sunday’s (15 August) fixture against title rivals Tampines at the Jalan Besar Stadium. 

Turning their attentions to the crunch tie between last season’s top two local sides – Tampines finished 2020 second in the eight-team SPL, with the Sailors two points behind in third – Naqiuddin and Stipe know exactly what is at stake. 

“We’ve one week to prepare for this game and we’re definitely up for this battle. We need to get all three points and nothing less,” declared Naqiuddin. 

“We’ve to treat our last eight remaining games as cup finals and not slip up anymore,” added Stipe. “We need to start from the very beginning and take control of each game.”