Football: Tanjong Pagar and Balestier no pushovers in season finale

Tanjong Pagar United recorded just one win in their first 11 games, but won four of their last nine to surge to fifth. PHOTO: AIA SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Unable to climb out of the bottom half of the Singapore Premier League, Tanjong Pagar United and Balestier Khalsa have only pride to play for in their final games on Sunday (Oct 10).

But the league's fifth- and sixth-placed sides could yet play a significant role in the season finale as Lion City Sailors and Albirex Niigata battle for the title.

Tanjong Pagar recorded just one win in their first 11 games, but won four of their last nine to surge to fifth. These included a 2-1 upset of defending champions Albirex - the only time the White Swans lost this season - whom they meet again at Jurong East.

However, this time, they will have to do without Luiz Junior, the man who scored the winner against Albirex on Aug 6 as he has returned to Brazil to be with his newborn daughter.

Tanjong Pagar defender Delwinder Singh said: "He will be a big miss, but we also have capable players like Khairul Amri and Ridhuan Muhammad, who are capable of stepping in.

"We have made heads turn in the second half (of the season) and proven we are a good side. We are going for the win again because we believe in ourselves and we want to finish the season strong."

Meanwhile, sixth-placed Balestier are also looking for a happy ending against the Sailors on Sunday and showed their intentions when they upset third-placed Hougang United 3-2 in an inconsequential match on Wednesday.

When both teams last met on Aug 8, the Sailors required a 95th-minute penalty to salvage a draw against Balestier.

Balestier attacker Hazzuwan Halim, who recorded three assists in that game, dedicated the achievements to his coach Marko Kraljevic, who is set to be replaced by Akbar Nawas after this season.

The 2017 Young Player of the Year said: "Coach Marko has taken me to the next level since I joined the club in 2014, and I really appreciate what he has done for the club and I. We will give everything to put up a good fight for him in his last game in charge."

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