BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
VJERAN Simunic (pic) has plenty to be happy about.
The DPMM FC coach finally has all his players in his squad, a luxury the Croatian was not afforded until last week.
What this means is that the club can resume their twice-a-day training just like they did in 2009. The result of all their hard work, as any DPMM FC fan will remember, is that Brunei's only professional club became the first foreign side to capture the Singapore League Cup.
Though Simunic has been training his men for the past two months, the Jerudong Mini Stadium only hosted the sessions in the evenings since many players hadn't received their releases from their employers but that is now a thing of the past.
"Now we train twice a day from Monday to Thursday, while Friday and Saturday just in the evenings and Sunday we rest," said Simunic yesterday.
"I now have my four players from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces' Sports Council (MS ABDB) and four from the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. The only one I don't have is Adi Said who is in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (an Asean competition for Under-21 countries which Brunei hosts biennially) team but I have been following his progress.
"I really want to thank my players for all the sacrifice they have put in before this ... Coming in from work and going straight to training.
"I am also happy that we were able to convince striker Abu Bakar Mahari who some have called the (Samuel) Eto'o of Tutong to get back playing football.
"He suffered a bad knee injury and he wanted to end his career, but he's now back in the team training slowly ... He will be training with the full team by next year.
"I think right now we are at 75 per cent, and we have the time to get to 100 per cent," Simunic added.
Though the club have yet to receive any official confirmation as to whether they will be able to rejoin the Singapore League next season which starts in February all signs are pointing towards it.
Simunic however warned that it wouldn't be easy for the team to enjoy the same kind of success they did in 2009.
Fifa's two-year suspension on Brunei, which was only lifted in May, meant DPMM FC have not played a competitive game since their 2-2 draw against Tampines Rovers FC on 29 Sept 2009.
Understandably, much has changed since then.
"As you know, football in Asia develops every month, so it won't be easy for us. We haven't played for two years," noted the former Bahrain coach,
"Even Barcelona would find it hard to be competitive if they hadn't played for two years! I am thankful that most of the players are not injured and I pray they will stay healthy and stay in good form.
"I dearly miss captain Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit. He is my right-hand man, along with assistant coach Norilham Hj Jais. Salleh is injured but he has been with us everyday.
"Like all my other players, he has been hungry to start playing again. He didn't do too much off-the-ball training and he injured his knee, but he should be fit soon."
Simunic might be happy with the club's recent progress but there's one thing that bugs him.
"All my players keep asking me when's the next friendly. They're like lions in a cage they want to get loose."The Brunei Times