BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic (pic) is facing a race against time to get his players fit.
Brunei's only professional club are eyeing a return to the Singapore League (S-League) next season and are awaiting a reply to an application they sent the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) two weeks ago.
But with the squad out of shape after not playing a competitive game since their 2-2 draw against Tampines Rovers FC on Sept 29, 2009, it is easy to understand why the Croatian's training sessions hardly involve any time on the ball.
He also has other worries on his mind.
His players can only make it to the club's base at the Jerudong Mini Stadium once a day, and some of them can't even make it to training at all because of other commitments.
"We are getting better day to day but at the moment we only train in the evening since the players are still working, at that too only around 5.30pm," he said last week.
"Maybe we will get approval from their employers to release them to train twice a day, morning and evening, once we get an answer from Singapore.
"Our problem is that we don't have our full squad with us now. The Royal Brunei Armed Forces' Sports Council (MS ABDB) have not released our players and we are still waiting for guys from the Under-23 national team.
"But we have five months (until the S-League starts in February) and we are doing the best we can.
"We are doing a lot of off-the-ball training to improve fitness (and) the players are all very happy to work. They have been neglected for so long and the most important thing is for them to get fit.
"I'm working differently for every player. Like Abu (striker Abu Bakar Mahari) for instance, he hasn't been training for one year so he has different drills to go through. Once they are fit then they can show their skill with the ball. When will that be? Perhaps in November or December ... The plan is to get all the players up to the same standard by that time.
"I'm not against the gym. I'll do it maybe once a week, but a footballer's natural environment is the field and you can see the atmosphere at training is great," he said, acknowledging he does most of his strength training at the Jerudong Mini Stadium.
Among the new faces in the team are several Under-21 players, two of whom are striker Shahrazen Hj Md Said's younger brothers Adi and Mohd Amalul Ariffin Shah.
Former Brunei Youth Team (Under-19) midfielder Azwan Ali Rahman and striker Abdul Al-Wardy Abdul Hamid are also among the younger players in the team, as is Mohd Arif Hj Zulkifli, who used to feature for Indera Sports Club.
It is the host of older players that might come as a surprise though, with ex-national striker Abg Norsillmy Abg Hj Taha who is in his early 30s heading the list. Md Julremi Hj Zaini, Md Hendra Azam Md Idris and Ampuan Nurul Azami Ampuan Husin are also those who have been training with the club, the players formerly at Wijaya FC, QAF FC and Majra FC respectively.
The club are allowed four imports in the S-League and Simunic admitted it won't be easy to replace the Croatian trio of Rene Komar (defender), Ivan Jerkovic and Drazen Govic (midfielders) and Algerian striker Abdel Hamid Berguiga.
"Like I said before, they must have the same kind of personality, ability and skill as our previous imports if not better," said Simunic.The Brunei Times