IT'S hardly breaking news that DPMM FC players are raring for a return to the Singapore League (S-League).
Club manager Pg Waslimin PSJ Pg Hj Abd Momin told The Brunei Times on Thursday that Brunei's most successful football club have applied to rejoin the S-League after submitting their application to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) earlier in the week, a move, which if successful, will reunite DPMM FC with the league they took by storm in 2009.
Despite clubs from Japan (Albirex Niigata) and South Korea (Super Reds) also playing in the S-League, it was Brunei's only professional football club that became the first foreign team to win a trophy in Singapore when they claimed the League Cup in their debut season in 2009.
They had a shot at making it a double in the league largely thanks to the guidance of bench boss Vjeran Simunic, who has made a comeback after being forced out when Fifa suspended Brunei and in extension, DPMM FC from international football for 20 months.
Hj Muhd Subhi Abdilah Hj Bakir, a key cog in Simunic's midfield, is itching to lace up in Singapore again. "Of course it's a great idea for us to play there again like before," he told The Brunei Times yesterday.
"We've been resting for a long time so I hope we can get back (into the S-League) and I think there's a big probability we will. We have been out of competition for nearly two years so we all can't wait to get started. Now that Fifa lifted the suspension (in May) it will be good for Brunei footballers to get back to playing international football and improve our standard.
"All of us support the decision to bring Simunic back. We would support any coach the club bring in but Simunic has helped us to achieve something. The players are all in-tune with his training, strategy and formation ... Though training might be hard, it's for the good of the club and players," added Hj Muhd Subhi.
Another key component in Simunic's squad is Mohd Wardun Yussof, the goalkeeper who was the team's hero during the 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) FC with back-to-back saves against midfielder Masahiro Fukasawa and defender Razaleigh Khalik.
He has also been in fine form in the domestic league, helping Majra FC claim the DST Group Brunei League Cup in June.
The shot-stopper also featured for DPMM FC when they were in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons, but maintains that neither the DST Group Brunei League nor the MSL can compare to the S-League.
"I'm happy to hear the news and hope it works. It is a very good league which is well organised and has really professional players and they are also more open," said Wardun.
"I also support the decision to bring back Simunic since he led the club to a trophy. It's a better idea to bring in new players and new faces instead of a new coach," he noted.
The team's deadliest striker, Shahrazen Hj Md Said, felt that a move back to the S-League with Simunic marked the club's natural progression after the Fifa suspension was lifted.
"It's a good idea. It's easy for us to communicate with Simunic and he knows our style of play ... We're like family," he said.
"We've been enjoying returning to training with him and we have really started preparing hard for the league," said Shahrazen, who finished the 2006/07 MSL season as joint top-scorer with 21 goals and also led DPMM FC in scoring during the 2008/09 S-League season with nine.
Another player who has been enjoying working with Simunic again is midfielder Hardi Bujang.
"For me it's a good idea to bring him back because if we get another coach we need to learn his style all over again," he said.
"He has really been concentrating on fitness during training and we're running a lot," he added.
French side Etoile FC are the S-League's defending champions, with the competition starting on Feb 12 with a dozen teams playing in three rounds
Currently in its 16th season, Singapore's top-flight is scheduled to end on Nov 28 though hopefully DPMM FC won't have to wait until then to find out if they can play.The Brunei Times