SINGAPORE: It went right down to the wire on the final day of the season but Lion City Sailors were crowned Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions on Sunday (Oct 10), the first time a local side has won the league since 2014.
Both the Sailors and Albirex Niigata began the last weekend of the 2021 SPL campaign level on points, with the former ahead on goal difference.
The Sailors secured the title with a 4-1 drubbing of Balestier Khalsa courtesy of goals from Song Ui-young, Diego Lopes and a double from Gabriel Quak at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Albirex could only draw 4-4 with Tanjong Pagar United in a pulsating match.
This meant that the Sailors finished on 48 points two points ahead of Albirex, who were looking to the defend their crown from last season.
The last local side to win the league was Warriors FC in 2014, and since then, the title was won by Brunei's DPMM in 2015 and 2019, with Albirex winning in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.
The Sailors, formerly known as Home United, were taken over in February 2020 by local tech firm Sea. The first privatised side in the league, they finished third in their first season last year.
Earlier this season, the Sailors made headlines with the signing of midfielder Lopes for an estimated €1.8 million (S$2.9 million) from Portuguese side Rio Ave. The Brazilian is the first multi-million dollar signing in the history of the league.
Coach Kim Do-hoon, who led South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai to victory in the Asian Football Confederation’s AFC Champions League last year, was appointed in May this year.
The SPL is in its fourth season since it was renamed from the S League.