BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Friday, July 29, 2011
VJERAN Simunic is confident the current crop of DPMM FC players still have what it takes to win trophies.
The popular ex-coach of Brunei's only professional football club, the Croatian's finest hour in charge of the team came in June 2009 when he helped them become the first foreign side to lift the Singapore League Cup.
It is the club's first and only piece of silverware in international football, and Simunic believes the players are capable of tasting more success.
Simunic was hoping to complete his 500th game as a coach when DPMM FC were still competing in the Singapore League (S-League), but he was forced to celebrate the milestone elsewhere when Fifa suspended Brunei a ruling which meant DPMM FC had to discontinue their S-League campaign.
The suspension has since been lifted and it is understood the team are eyeing a return to the S-League.
He was in charge of DPMM FC for 17 months, during which the team had a good chance of winning the treble.
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 plays in the country's second tier Vietnam First Division.
But a recent trip back to the Sultanate gave him all the assurance he needed that a return back at the helm would be just as fruitful as in 2009.
"The current crop of players are still good. They are still young," said Simunic last week.
"The players have not played for two years so they need so start training properly as soon as possible.
"They must start now so that they are strong at the end of the year.
"The club needs a few foreigners to help the team become better in any segment, be it in midfield, defence or attack.
"It would be good if we can reinforce the team that way but I have seen there are a few new kids and I am very happy about that.
"That means the current generation can become leaders for the young kids," he added.
The comments are hardly surprising.
During a visit to Brunei in February, Simunic said that DPMM FC have quality players like striker Shahrazen Hj Md Said and left winger Sairol Hj Sahri who are capable of playing at any Asean club.
However, Fifa's ban on the Sultanate curtailed their development, and it is a decision that still leaves Simunic fuming.
"As I said two years ago, Fifa made a big mistake by suspending Brunei," he noted.
"Brunei is a good place to develop footballers. That is one of the reasons I like to come here; it is a challenge.
"I am sure we can be better than two years ago.
"Vietnam are very strong and they won the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup three years ago. I want Brunei to someday get that kind of result.
"I know we are DPMM FC, but in my opinion, the national team and the club must not be two entirely different things.
"We might have a squad of 25 players and I am sure from there, many of our young players can be in the national team," insisted Simunic, who was in charge of the country during the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers where the squad were made up of DPMM FC players.
The journeyed coach was talking to The Brunei Times on a short return to the county to discuss the possibility of rejoining DPMM FC.
Though Ho Chi Minh City FC have four games left in the season, he has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave at any time a move he initiated since he didn't know when Fifa would lift the suspension.
But in an earlier interview Simunic said he would only return to Brunei once he fulfills his obligations in Vietnam.The Brunei Times