Tampines Rovers were confirmed as Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League champions for the third straight season after second-placed Albirex Niigata (S) were beaten 2-1 by Balestier Khalsa on Sunday.
(ALB: Kento Nagasaki 87′ | BAL: Qiu Li 19′; Park Kang-jin 43′)
Needing a win to have any mathematical chance of catching the Stags, Albirex went behind at the Jurong East Stadium in the 19th minute when Qiu Li pounced on a loose ball and lashed a shot past Hiroaki Hara from 15 yards.
Balestier then doubled their lead two minutes before the break when South Korean midfielder Park Kang-jin netted with a neat finish, and it began to look increasingly likely that the title was headed to the Clementi Stadium.
The White Swans did manage to pull one back three minutes from time when Kento Nagasaki curled home a freekick from the edge of the box, but it proved to be too little too late as the visitors held on for all three points.
With just three games remaining, Albirex now have no chance of catching Tampines, who have a 12-point lead, and the Stags will be looking to begin their title celebrations on Monday when they take on Home United at the Bishan Stadium.
Albirex Niigata (S): Hiroaki Hara, Takeshi Nagasawa (Kazuya Fukuzaki 68’), Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda, Itsuki Yamada, Shuhei Hotta, Masatake Sato, Kento Nagasaki, Bruno Castanheira, Shingo Suzuki, Kazuki Sakamoto.
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam, Poh Yi Feng, Obadin Aikhena, Paul Cunningham, Syed Thaha, Tengku Mushadad, Park Kang-jin (Vitor Borges 79’), Kim Min-ho, Ruhaizad Ismail (Ridwan Jamil 56’), Zulkiffli Hassim, Qiu Li (Shafuan Sutohmoh 84’).