03 February 2012

DPMM FC begin S-League quest at home next Sunday

Jason Thomas

Friday, February 3, 2012

IT'S OFFICIAL - DPMM FC will take on defending champions Tampines Rovers in their 2012 Singapore League (S-League) opener next Sunday.

The game will be played at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas the scene of DPMM FC's last S-League match.

Coincidentally, the 2-2 draw on 29 Sept 2009 was the club's final S-League match because of FIFA's now lifted suspension on the country.

Though the enticing match against the titleholders was announced during last Thursday's S-League season launch at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, it was only yesterday that DPMM FC officials revealed the full league fixtures and venues.

Taking one look at it, Brunei's only professional club don't have it easy though they will be aided by the fact they play three of their first four games at home.

They face powerhouses Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) FC in their next game on Feb 19 and meet Albirex Niigata (Singapore) on March 11.

The tie against SAF at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium in Singapore will be a considered one of their toughest assignments. After all, SAF are the most successful club in the 16-year history of the S-League after having claimed the title a record eight times.

Finishing second for four seasons, the army men have only placed outside the top-two three years a statistic that will not sit well with opposing teams.

With two appearances in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League and three in the Asian Club Championships, most coaches know they write off SAF at their own peril.

More importantly, the DPMM FC faithful will also remember that it was against SAF that DPMM FC won the Singapore League Cup in 2009, making them the first foreign side to do so.

DPMM FC's fourth game will see them take on Geylang United FC at home while their fifth is an interesting tie against Harimau Muda (Malaysia's Under-23 national team) at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.

The Malaysians are the other new side in this year's league so the historic first-ever clash between the two sides will definitely be one for the ages.

Despite having what might be termed as a tough start to their S-League return, one positive is the club will start their campaign at home, where a win in front of a healthy crowd starving for S-League football will put them on the right track for a targeted top-five finish.

The side play seven more games before the end of the first round.

The S-League is played in a triple round-robin format, where each team faces the other three times and the champion crowned upon completion of the third round.

DPMM FC's first meeting with Tampines on 3 April 2009 ended in a 1-1 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore while the second on 10 July 2009 saw the hosts record a 2-1 win at the same venue. The third, which was their last game before they were forced to pull out of the S-League with just four games left in their debut season, was a 2-2 draw at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas on 29 Sept 2009.

Tampines face Home United on Sunday's Charity Shield match a game which DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic said will be an important scouting mission.

Tampines beat Home United to the 2011 S-League title by a single point and will have a chance to send out an early sign if they pip the reigning RHB Singapore Cup champions in the season's S-League curtain-raiser.

The Brunei Times

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