24 July 2011

Coach, DPMM FC to be reunited?

Jason Thomas

Saturday, July 23, 2011

ENTER the next chapter of Vjeran Simunic's love affair with Brunei.

The former DPMM FC coach is back in town to discuss the possibility of rejoining the country's only professional football club which the Croatian left in October 2009 after Brunei was suspended by Fifa.

The suspension meant DPMM FC had to stop competing in the Singapore League (S-League) mid-season, ending a captivating campaign in which they became the first foreign side to lift the Singapore League Cup. It was also the club's first and only piece of silverware in international football.

Simunic guided the club for 17 months and when he was forced to leave, said he always believed he had some unfinished business especially since the side had a good chance of winning the treble in 2009.

After leaving Brunei he went back to 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 that play in the country's second tier Vietnam First Division.

Now that Fifa has reversed its decision and Brunei is back on the international scene, the journeyed coach wants to resume his relationship with the country he never really left behind.

"I came to see the situation here and speak about the job. I see I am still accepted by the people and the club and I am really happy to come back again," said Simunic, who has more than 500 games under his belt as a coach for more than a dozen clubs.

"The life of a footballer or coach is like that of a sailor we are always moving around. I usually stay in one place for a year but I was in Brunei for two, and if it works out now, it will be my third.

"I've fallen in love ... There is love on both sides. Brunei is a country which is in my heart and I hope we can soon work together.

"In this case, it is not a question of money. In Vietnam I have good money and position at the club, but I always couldn't wait to come back to Brunei if they want me.

"And I'm proud that they do.

"The job isn't finished here ... The job of two years ago," he reminded The Brunei Times on Thursday.

Simunic only came to Brunei because there is a 15-day pause in the league for the World Cup Asian Zone qualifier between Vietnam and Qatar, the first leg which will be played today in Doha and the second on Thursday.

The Croatian will be going back to Vietnam next week because his side have a game on Saturday.

It is the first of four games his club will play until the season comes to a close on Aug 21, and he is confident nothing will hold him back from returning to Brunei after that.

"I want to finish the season in Vietnam," he insisted.

"About the situation in Vietnam, I have a clause in my contract that states I can leave at any time because I didn't know when Brunei could play again.

"I have already spoken with the (DPMM FC) management and everyone agrees.

"I went to Vietnam because I wanted to work in Asia and gain more experience coaching in the region. Now I can compare Vietnam to Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore," he added. The Brunei Times

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