The Lion City Sailors will kick off the 2022 domestic football season on 19 February, taking on Albirex Niigata (S) in the AIA Community Shield, in a year that promises Singapore the most football action witnessed in the Covid-19 era.
The Community Shield is a standalone fixture that serves as the curtain-raiser of the 27th season of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) season that will be played over four rounds instead of the three-round format witnessed in 2021.
The league explained that the increase in number of matches is designed to inject a higher level of competition, while also allowing players to earn more minutes on the pitch.
The Sailors will start the defence of their SPL crown on 27 Feb, against Hougang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium, with Geylang International, Tampines Rovers and Albirex to come in a thrilling March fixture calendar.
Fans will be able to witness more players taking to the pitch as well, with the league allowing clubs to register 20 players for each matchday. There will be nine substitutes allowed on a team’s bench – up from seven last season – with clubs permitted to make up to five substitutions per match.
The Singapore Cup will return in 2022, with the tournament slated to commence on 25 October. The 23rd edition of the tournament will see teams competing in a single-round group stage. The top two teams in each of the two groups will then progress to the semi-finals, which will be played over two legs, in a home and away knockout format.
This will be the Sailors’ maiden Singapore Cup campaign, with the tournament returning after a pandemic-enforced absence in 2021 and 2020, the year the club was established.
More leeway for coaches
The 2022 SPL season will see the youth quota that was introduced in 2018 lowered. Clubs were originally required to field a minimum of three Singaporean Under-23 players for the entire duration of the first half in every SPL match in 2018, a number that will be reduced to one in the 2022 season.
While spectator figures will remain capped at 1,000 as it was in 2021, with spectators required to produce proof of vaccinations according to existing guidelines, SPL fans will continue to be able to watch every match LIVE on broadcast via Singtel TV and StarHub TV as well as live streaming online via the SPL Facebook page and YouTube channel.