S.League Roundup - March: Tampines lead the charge

At the end of March only the Stags maintained a 100% record with Albirex close on their heels
By Khalis Rifhan

Perched at the top of the table, reigning champions Tampines Rovers have not put a foot wrong this season, maintaining their perfect record in the league and stay three points ahead of their closest rival Albirex Niigata (S). 

But results tell a different tale from their performance on the pitch. Nenad Bacina’s charges were made to sweat for the three points and in all their four matches in March, they did not win by more than a single goal margin.

Main striker Sead hadzibulic has yet to hit form this season and they have had to rely on five different players for their six goals in all their matches this month, including a goal from 42-year-old veteran Aleksander Duric. 

Title hopefuls Albirex certainly need to get back to winning ways if they are to snatch their first league title since their debut in 2004. Last year was their best ever result, finishing third place in the league, but they could have done better had they been consistent in their performance.

Their five match winning streak was broken by the once uninspiring Woodlands Wellington – who ended the last three campaigns at the wrong end of the table. 

The Rams' impressive start to the season is by no means a fluke as their new foreign signing has been the catalyst that has awed their club faithful who have stood by them despite their poor form in recent years.

Former Albirex playmaker Atsushi Shimono has been pulling the team together, linking up play in the middle of the field while the nucleus of their attacks has been centered around former Netherlands U21 international Khalid Hamdaoui, with the latter having four goals and a handful of assists to his name. 

The Rams ended the month with an unfortunate 1-0 loss to last season's runners up, Brunei DPMM whose win moved them up to fifth spot.

The two uniformed groups, Home United and Warriors FC have steadily risen up the table after a poor start to the campaign. Both are on seven points with Paul Lee’s team above the eight-time champions, in sixth spot, on goal difference. 

Warriors coach V.Selvaraj has been under pressure after a disappointing start to the season but that was soon swept under the carpet momentarily following their morale boosting 3-0 win over cellar-dwellers Courts Young Lions at the Choa Chu Kang stadium in their last match of the month.

For Home, their recent revival in form can be attributed to the Korean duo of Song Ui Young and Lee Kwan Woo pulling the strings from midfield. The former, registered as a Prime League player, is only 19 but has established himself in the first team with some sparkling performances that have yielded two goals in four games. His veteran counterpart, an ex-international, has gone one better with three strikes in his debut season while playing a key figure in all of the Protectors' matches so far. 

At the bottom end of the table, Young Lions, who are still searching for their first win of the season, are accompanied by the Young Tigers of Malaysia who are a spot above them and level on points with Alex Weaver’s Hougang United.