S.League: Predictions for the new season

Singapore’s S.League gets underway at the weekend with the Community Shield between last season’s champions Albirex Niigata and runners up Tampines Rovers, while the season proper starts on Monday.

FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the nine teams and their prospects as we head into another season of domestic football in Singapore.

Albirex Niigata (S)

As is the case every year with Albirex, the Japanese side come into the new season as somewhat of an unknown quantity. It will be almost impossible for Albirex to pull off a repeat of last season, where they won every domestic trophy on offer, but rest assured the squad put together of promising young talent from around Japan will be competitive. With 18 new faces in the squad, skipper Shuto Inaba, one of the few players to remain from last year, will have his hands full trying to marshall them on the pitch. Back to earth this season for Albirex.

Prediction: A mid-table finish

Tampines Rovers

With practically a new squad of players and a coach that was only appointed at the beginning of the month Tampines Rovers will need to settle quickly. With their attacking trident of Jermaine Pennant, Billy Mehmet and Jordan Webb gone, the goalscoring responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Khairul Amri and new recruit Ivan Dzoni. Defence should not be a problem for the Stags as they have drafted in experienced duo Daniel Bennett and Madhu Mohana, while Mustafic Fahrudin is also there to provide stability. Midfield is an area of uncertainty for Juergen Raab’s men as it remains to be seen how the several new signings will gel, but this strong squad should still be challenging.

Prediction: Top two

Home United

The Protectors have assembled a decent squad under former player Aidil Sharin, but much depends on whether new signing Stipe Plazibat can fill the substantial gap left by prolific hitman Ken Ilso after his move to Malaysia. Sharin will be looking to former Young Lion Adam Swandi to build on some promising early season showings in the AFC Cup qualifiers and become a key part of the Home attack. With the canny Sharin at the helm, the Protectors could be a force to be reckoned with this season.

Prediction: Top two

Geylang International

Not much has changed from last season for the Eagles although they are likely to miss the experienced hand of Daniel Bennett at the back after the veteran left for Tampines. Goal scoring was the conundrum for Geylang last year so coach Hasrin Jailani will be hoping that new signing Victor Coto can provide some attacking threat. Jailani has also tipped Amy Recha, Safirul Sulaiman and Shawal Anuar to shine this term after the trio showed lots of promise last year. Being one of the League’s more settled teams could see Geylang challenging for honours this season.

Prediction: Top four

Brunei DPMM

Another side to have had a reasonably quiet close season, Steve Kean’s side will be looking to challenge for the title this term after failing to defend their crown last time round. The key for the Wasps could be how lanky frontman Rafael Ramazotti links up with fellow forward and new signing Billy Mehmet, who made the switch to Brunei after a successful season for Tampines. The two target men have similar styles and it will be interesting to see how Kean employs them. Brunei’s other signing, Francois Marque from FC Le Mont, should provide some much-needed experience at the back that could turn the Bees into contenders once more.

Prediction: Top four

Warriors FC

Razif Onn and the Warriors will be looking to improve on a disappointing season last year which saw them finish 7th. Transfer activity has been limited with Jordan Webb arriving from Tampines to replace last season’s top scorer Johnathan Behe while in defence, Lions centurion Baihakki Khaizan has been brought in to fill the considerable gap left by Madhu Mohana. With like-for-like replacements the only additions to the squad, it will be up to the players that underperformed last season to lift Onn’s team to bigger and better things this term.

Prediction: Bottom half

Hougang United

It’s been a busy period transfer activity for former Home United head coach Philippe Aw with seven new faces coming in. Japanese duo Atsushi Shirota and Fumiya Kogure will be expected to provide the backbone for the team while the responsibility for goals will fall to Spanish journeyman Pablo Rodriguez after a successful spell with Madura United in Indonesia. Hopes are high for the Cheetahs who will be expecting to do much better than last year’s mid-table finish, but with so many stronger and well-settled teams in the league it may prove hard for them make the transition into a team that challenges.

Prediction: Bottom half

Balastier Khalsa

After a dire showing last term that saw the Tigers finish second bottom, the new season starts with fresh hope for Balastier fans following the recent capture of three Myanmar international in the shape of Aung Kyaw Naing, Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit and Kyaw Zayar Win just two weeks prior to the start of the new term. Despite the optimism generated by the signings it will be hard to see Marko Kraljevic’s young team sustain the kind of level needed to break into the top half of the table.

Prediction: Bottom half

Young Lions

V Selvaraj has taken over the mantle following Patrick Hesse’s resignation at the end of last season, but it’s unlikely to change anything now that the Young Lions have seen the departure of all their over-aged players as they prepare for the upcoming Southeast Asia (SEA) Games. As Hesse’s former assistant, Selvaraj’s appointment has ensured continuity but with an even younger squad of players it’s also likely that the Young Lions will continue to occupy the bottom spot in the S.League.

Prediction: Bottom