The Lion City Sailors will make their Singapore Cup debut in late October as their group opponents were revealed in a virtual draw ceremony held at Jalan Besar Stadium earlier this afternoon (27 September).
The 2021 Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions were drawn in Group A alongside four-time champions Albirex Niigata (S), 2014 winners Balestier Khalsa and the Young Lions.
Group B will see Tampines Rovers, Tanjong Pagar United, Hougang United and Geylang International battle for the other semi-final spots.
Group stage matches will be played from 27 October to 6 November, with fixtures being announced at a later date.
The top two sides of each group will progress into the semi-finals, played over two legs on 11 and 15 November. The grand final is scheduled for 19 November at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
This will be the Sailors’ maiden voyage in the Singapore Cup with the domestic cup competition marking its return after a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tampines won the last edition played in 2019, emerging 4-3 winners over Warriors FC to win the competition for a fourth time.
Reflecting on the draw, Sailors interim head coach Luka Lalić is relishing the challenge to lead the club into unchartered waters but insists that the Singapore Cup campaign will be a task that will only come into focus later, at the end of October.
“We’re all excited as a club to be playing in our first Singapore Cup campaign. The format of the competition means it’ll be an exciting one for the local football fans.
“It won’t be easy for us as everyone knows Albirex have won four out of the last five editions and Balestier always enjoy a good cup run, so we have to take each game seriously to qualify for the semis and the ultimate aim is always to win the competition,” said the 35-year-old.
“But our focus now remains on our league campaign – we have to win our remaining four games and hopefully do enough to retain the SPL title. Once we’ve achieved that objective, then we’ll turn our focus to the Singapore Cup.”