27 February 2011

Shahrazen apologises, may give India another go

HAVING had time to gather his thoughts, striker Shahrazen Hj Md Said realises he should have tried harder to make his trip to Goa, India, work out.

The 25-year-old hitman was to become the first local footballer to try his luck abroad when he left last Monday for a tryout with India League's (I-League) 2nd Division side Sporting Clube de Goa.

But a stressful journey to the coastal Indian State and the culture-shock that came from being in a new country for the first time saw the emotional striker return to Brunei after less than two days in India.

"I am sorry for what I said earlier (on Thursday). I didn't mean it," Shahrazen said, referring to comments he made in yesterday's edition of The Brunei Times.

"I was homesick as this was the first time in my football career that I had travelled alone without teammates around me," he said yesterday.

Shahrazen (pic) took nearly a day to reach Goa, travelling from Brunei to Bangkok and Mumbai before finally touching down at 6.50am in the coastal Indian State.

All is not lost though, and Shahrazen said he would be willing to give the western Indian State another chance.

"I may go back (to Goa) because the president of the club invited me to return after two weeks," he said.

"I also want to thank the club for inviting me to play there in the first place," he added.

In all fairness, the situation in Goa was not what Shahrazen had expected.

His agent had told him the club were already mid-way through their season and that he would be offered a contract immediately.

But when Shahrazen arrived he found out the club were on a break until April, when they would compete in a month-long tournament to fight for a place in the I-League 1st Division play-offs.

He would also have to complete trials.The Brunei Times

Shahrazen - 30 hours in Goa

Striker only lasted a day in India, will not play for Sporting Clube de Goa

SHAHRAZEN Hj Md Said's quest to become the first local footballer to play abroad came to a premature end when he returned home on Thursday.

The DPMM FC striker left Brunei to play in the India League (I-League) 2nd Division's side Sporting Clube de Goa on Monday but was only able to put up with the city for 30 hours.

"I touched down in Goa at 6.50am on Tuesday and I already had a bad feeling," he told The Brunei Times yesterday.

"The place looked like it just recovered from a war. It was dirty and it smelt of everything from the drain to the garbage to the soil.

"I flew in through Bangkok and Mumbai and I was 100 per cent committed all the way. But as soon as I reached Goa it went down to zero per cent.

"I got to the club's guest house and I was already thinking about how to get back. I already knew I didn't want to stay because my heart was not comfortable.

"Before that I was proud to become the first Bruneian to play overseas, but when I was there I didn't think about that at all," he sighed.

The 25-year-old hitman also said the situation in Goa was not what he had signed up for.

His Malaysian agent Hizo Hizwan had told him Sporting Clube de Goa were already mid-way through their season and he would be offered a contract straight away.

But when Shahrazen met with club officials on Tuesday night he found out that the team were on a break until April, when they would compete in a month-long tournament to fight for a place in the I-League 1st Division play-offs.

He would also have to go through trials, so he didn't have a job waiting for him after all as promised.

Despite trying their best to persuade him to stay until the end of the month at least, Sporting Clube de Goa's pleas fell on deaf ears.

"They understood I was not comfortable," explained Shahrazen.

"At first they wanted me to stay. They said I was stressed because it was my first time in India and they asked me to wait for 15 to 20 days and make my decision after that.

"But I was straight forward with them and told them I could not continue," stressed the Bruneian.

Shahrazen had by this time already talked to Hizo and asked him to book his return flight, but the agent also advised him to stick around in Goa for a while and slug it out.

The striker said that things only looked up for him when Hizo called at 3am on Wednesday to say that he had talked to the club officials and would try to get him a ticket back to Brunei.

Shahrazen went to his one and only training session on Wednesday morning and was out of Goa by 2.30pm the same day.

Though he admits he was less than happy with his agent, Shahrazen has no hard feelings.

"At first I was stressed and disappointed. I was also a bit angry at the agent but after he helped me get back it was alright," he said.

According to Shahrazen, Hizo had heard about him from his time in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) with DPMM FC when the striker finished joint top scorer during the 2006/2007 season with 21 goals.

Shahrazen also led DPMM FC in scoring during their debut S-League season in 2008/2009 by finding the back of the net nine times and was crucial to the team's Singapore League Cup championship run in 2009.

He had previously received offers to play in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia from other agents, but none were as concrete as India.

A store-keeper at the Department of Public Works (JKR), Shahrazen's leave which was to be until April 30 is now void and he will report back to work today.

Despite his first stint overseas leaving him with a bad taste in the mouth, Shahrazen said he was still eager to ply his trade abroad.

"The agent is now looking for clubs in Hong Kong and Singapore ... Basically places where the transfer window is still open," said Shahrazen.

"All in all I'm disappointed with what has happened.

"I still want to play abroad but I must do proper research first, I don't want it to be like this again." The Brunei Times

20 February 2011

Shahrazen's passage to India

Brunei striker to play for India's Sporting Clube de Goa.

SHAHRAZEN Hj Md Said will become the first local footballer to ply his trade abroad when he leaves to join India's Sporting Clube de Goa today.

No stranger to creating history, the prolific striker has finally decided to test foreign shores after famously spurning various clubs in the region since DPMM FC's campaign in the Singapore League (S-League) came to a close in October 2009.

Handed a three-month contract by the India League's (I-League) Second Division side mid-way through their season, the 25-year-old Bruneian has been tasked with helping the team earn promotion back to the top flight.

"If they think I'm good they will give me a contract for the next season," he told The Brunei Times on Friday.

"The club used to be in the First Division and they're looking for a striker to help them get back (to the top flight). I won't have to go through any trials or anything I'm going to play straight away.

"It's my first time going to India so I'm excited and nervous. I'm also scared since I don't know much about the environment in Goa and the club.

"I don't even know the language. If they speak English it's alright, but what if they don't?

"I can't say how long it will take for me to adjust, but all I can say is that I want to try fit in as soon as possible. I think fitness shouldn't be a problem. I'm 90 per cent fit since DPMM FC haven't stopped training as a club.

"I'm proud that I have become the first Bruneian to play abroad but I ask myself if I will be able to compete with the Indians or not ...

"The next three months will be important," he stressed.

Finishing joint top scorer during the 2006/07 Malaysian Super League (MSL) season with 21 goals, Shahrazen also led DPMM FC in scoring during their debut S-League season in 2008/09 by bulging the net nine times.

Brunei's only professional club, DPMM FC became the first foreign team to win the Singapore League Cup in June 2009 and Shahrazen said that capturing the trophy and being named the MSL joint top scorer ranked as his most memorable moments in the sport.

The hitman has been courted by Malaysian giants Selangor and Pahang in the past, with Indonesian Super League side Persiba Balikpapan and Singapore League outfit Balestier Khalsa FC also having expressed interest in his services.

However, he denied them all, saying that the time was not right.

Though he might not know much about his new club at least he can get some pointers about the league and country from Keita Mandjou, the Guinean who tied Shahrazen in scoring during the 2006/07 MSL season and who is currently at I-League's First Division side Pune FC.

Created in the mould of Portuguese side Sporting Clube de Portugal or more commonly known as Sporting Lisbon Sporting Clube de Goa were formed in 1999.

Making their debut in the Indian National Football League Premier Division the predecessor of the I-League during the 2003/04 season, Sporting Clube de Goa have enjoyed some success in the First Division where they finished ahead of more established clubs in the country.

Shahrazen said he heard the club were looking for a striker to revive their fortunes through a Malaysian agent early last week.

Though the club have not seen Shahrazen in action, his resume impressed them enough to sign him.

Obstacles such as getting an international transfer certificate (ITC), a visa and leave from his employers he works as a storekeeper at the Department of Public Works (JKR) sorted themselves out as the week progressed.

"At first I thought I couldn't go because Brunei doesn't have a football association which is recognised internationally so it would be hard for me to get an ITC," said the hitman, referring to the document which enables a player to transfer from one club to another.

"I thought that since there was no umbrella body for Bruneian footballers I couldn't play abroad, but the agent took care of everything and I got the ITC direct from Fifa.

"DPMM FC, the Department of Youth and Sports and the JKR have been with me all the way. So I would like to thank the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports as well as the Ministry of Development and the Department of Civil Services for making this work out.

"Most importantly, my family has been really, really supportive especially my wife who is expecting our third child. My leave is until April 30 so I should be back before my wife is due."

Whether Shahrazen makes his mark in Goa or if his contract will be extended is for anyone to guess. But one thing is for sure his potential will never be fully realised if he stays in Brunei and hopefully his move will be the spark that local footballers need to test their luck abroad.The Brunei Times

Brunei Times

05 February 2011

Croatian Simunic's heart still yearns for Brunei

Jason Thomas
Thursday, February 3, 2011

FOR a few hours it seemed as if the good times were here again.

The players were hanging around laughing and cracking jokes, the management was chatting to each other, and most tellingly, Vjeran Simunic was back.

DPMM FC's former head coach is in Brunei for a week to meet up with the club officials and players during a break in play in Vietnam's football season.

Since leaving Brunei's only professional club in Oct 2009, the journeyed coach returned to his native Croatia for a short stint in charge of NK Medimurje and then took charge of Ho Chi Minh City FC a year later, the club which plays in the country's second tier Vietnam First Division.

But despite enjoying his tenure at the club which has won the top tier Vietnam League four times, Simunic insists his heart still yearns for Brunei.

"I feel the same ... Like I never left. Brunei is a country I will never forget," he said last night.

"When I left I wanted to be in this area, in Asia.

"I was very sad when I left the club because I was sure — we were all sure — we did a great job.

"We beat all the big clubs in Singapore and we were all very proud. I was hoping today we could gather the people who helped create those good results," he added.

There is hardly any local football fan that does not know what Simunic and his close knit band of players have achieved. In May 2009 they captured the Singapore League Cup after a dramatic 4-3 win in a penalty shootout against seven-time league champions Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), becoming the first foreign team to lift a trophy in Singapore football.

They were riding a wave of confidence and were poised to challenge for the Singapore League crown before the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) banned Brunei from international competitions following the suspension of Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (Bafa) by local authorities.

The suspension prevented DPMM FC from completing the rest of their 2009 campaign, a move which left Simunic and the rest of the foreign players out of jobs.

It also shattered his plans to develop the sport in the country, a job he was more than equipped to handle after guiding the national side during the qualifiers for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup campaign in 2008.

"We wanted to build for the future. I saw how the Philippines played in the recent Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup ... We could have beat them," said Simunic.

"We have players like Shahrazen Hj Md Said and Sairol Hj Sahri who can play anywhere in the Asean region. For me, Fifa made a big, big mistake," he added.

There is no secret that Simunic is waiting for the situation to be solved and for him to return.

After all, he wants the good times back as much as anyone else.The Brunei Times