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Lion City Sailors stumble in pre-season test against Southern Tigers

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Lion City Sailors stumble in pre-season test against Southern Tigers

SINGAPORE: Singapore Premier League club Lion City Sailors were unable to overcome Malaysia Super League outfit Johor Darul Ta’zim in the pre-season causeway friendly battle.

The Sailors lost 2-1 in the first match at the Bishan Stadium on April 4 and 4-0 at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium on April 8. Both sides are using the match as preparation ahead of their league campaign, which is due to start in May.

The Singapore Premier League 2024/2025 season will begin on May 4 with the traditional Community Shield, followed by the proper league campaign a week later.

After claiming the Singapore Premier League title in 2021, the Lion City Sailors have found Albirex Niigata (S) a tough nut to crack in the following two seasons.

They finished runners-up in the 2023 campaign with 54 points, trailing champions Albirex by eight points.

In preparation for the upcoming 2024/2025 season, head coach Aleksandar Rankovic has bolstered the squad with key signings. These include the much-anticipated return of fan favourite Song Uiyong (pic below).

The Sailors have also secured the talents of former FC Utrecht midfielder Bart Ramselaar and Croatian defender Toni Datkovic, who boasts experience in Spain’s La Liga 2.

Photo credit: Lion City Sailors

For the pre-season friendly against Johor, head coach Rankovic opted to field his best players for the first match in front of the 2,477-strong home crowd at the Bishan Stadium.

The club started with captain Hariss Harun, Song, Maxime Lestienne, Bailey Wright, and three of its new foreign signings: Ramseelar, Datkovic, and Sergio Carmona (U-21 player).

In their pre-season opener against Johor, head coach Rankovic deployed a strong starting lineup in front of a passionate 2,477-strong home crowd at the Bishan Stadium.

Captain Hariss Harun, Song, Maxime Lestienne, and Bailey Wright started the match, joined by three of the club’s new signings: Ramselaar, Datkovi, and Under-21 player Sergio Carmona.

Though it was just a pre-season friendly, both clubs approached the match with a competitive fire, turning it into a fiercely fought battle.

Lestienne scored the only goal for the Sailors, while Nicolao Dumitru and Romel Morales netted a goal each for the visitors.

In their second pre-season friendly against Johor, head coach Rankovic made five changes to the starting lineup, introducing Sailors’ latest Under-21 signing, Obren Kljajic.

Goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, Shawal Anuar, Chris van Huizen, and Hafiz Nor began the match at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium, while Zharfan Rohaizad (goalkeeper), Maxime Lestienne, Hami Syahin, Sergio Carmona, and Richairo Zivkovic were named among the substitutes.

Johor dominated proceedings, with Fernando Forestieri opening the account from the penalty spot in the 41st minute. Juan Muniz piled on the pressure right before halftime with Johor’s second goal.

Herberty Fernandez extended their lead seven minutes after the break, and Muniz secured a brace in the 67th minute, sealing a convincing 4-0 victory for the Southern Tigers.

Photo credit: Lion City Sailors

Kljajic (pic above), a former Brisbane Roar’s Under-21 player and ex-Bosnia Under-18 international, will fill up one of the three permitted Under-21 players’ quota for Sailors in the upcoming league campaign.

The other Under-21 signing is Spanish left-back Carmona.

“I was pretty stoked to get the call to come back as I feel there’s unfulfilled business for me in Singapore with the Sailors. It’s great to be teammates with Bailey (Wright), who played for the Australia national team.

We’ve some top-quality players here, and I’m already looking forward to the start of the season,” mentioned Kljajic in an interview with the Sailors.

The Sailors will now travel to Thailand for a pre-season training camp before the start of the Singapore Premier League. The club will also participate in the AFC Champions League 2 and the newly revived ASEAN Club Championship.

The ASEAN Club Championship will feature 14 of ASEAN’s leading clubs, competing in 40 matches. The regional tournament will kick off this year on July 17 and is expected to run through to May 21, 2025.

The post Lion City Sailors stumble in pre-season test against Southern Tigers appeared first on The Independent Singapore News - Latest Breaking News

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