BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Monday, February 13, 2012
WHAT should have been a fairytale finish ended in frustration for DPMM FC last night.
Playing their first competitive game since September 2009, DPMM FC let in a heart-wrenching injury-time goal to let Singapore League (S-League) titleholders Tampines Rovers FC steal a 2-2 draw.
Midfielder Jamil Ali's lob over Wardun Yussof was a sobering sight for the healthy crowd at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas, all eager to watch their team's S-League season opener.
Also present at the stadium were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah.
With three corners in the first two minutes, DPMM FC didn't waste any time getting their fans on the edge of their seats and got in front after an Osman Basiru strike in the 38th minute.
Though Fahrudin Mustafic would equalise early in the second half, an error by Tampines shot-stopper Sasa Dreven saw Ivan Jerkovic hand the hosts a 2-1 lead in the 69th minute only for Jamil to spoil the party.
Frustrated fans might have complained that Vjeran Simunic's decision to substitute two defenders in the last 10 minutes backfired, but the coach stuck to his guns.
"We changed them (left-back Sairol Hj Sahari and right-back Shahrulrizal Hj Abd Rahman) because they were injured," said the Croatian.
"We could win ... No, we deserved to win. We showed we're a good team and that Singapore must care about us.
"We deserved the three points, but because of the beep test we are without key players like (defender) Yussof Salleh and (midfielder) Abang Norsilmy Abang Hj Taha," he said, referring to the mandatory fitness test that several of his players have been unable to pass.
Osman netted the opener when he pounced on defender Tales Ricarte dos Santos's shot that rebounded off the cross-bar after a corner-kick from Azwan Salleh.
Not only was dos Santos a monster in the air, the Brazilian also kept a tight leash on Aleksandar Duric, though the veteran striker was able to deliver a header which was easily saved by Wardun in the 44th minute and then saw Davor Piskor's shot sail wide of the left post a minute later.
But there was no denying Tampines in the 48th minute when Mustafic rifled a low free-kick past Wardun's left after Jerkovic had fouled Jamil outside the box.
Wardun was called into action again 10 minutes later with a brilliant point-blank save from Jamil's shot.
DPMM FC captain Rosmin Hj Kamis was a beast in the centre of the park with his ball-winning abilities and cool head working well with his Croatian central midfield partner Jerkovic.
But overall, the team failed to create space and work the ball around a well organised Tampines back-line marshalled by Mustafic.
Less than six yards out, Rodrigo Gral should have made it 2-1 to DPMM FC after receiving a Shahrazen Md Said pass in the 62nd minute. But Dreven, who had a fine game in between the sticks, came off his line to save from close-range.
Dreven was not so lucky seven minutes later though.
Basiru passed the ball to Jerkovic, and with space and time, fired a 25-yard cannonball which his compatriot had a hand on but could not hold on to.
As opposed to Gral, Basiru was a menace throughout the game with hiswillingness to run at defenders and had a penalty claim dismissed in the 72nd minute.
Dos Santos proved his worth once again in the 77th minute with a goal-line clearance, but failing to keep the ball, the three points was always in threat.
When Jamil took advantage of some confusion in the box after all, Sairol and Shahrulrizal's substitutes, Mohammad Helmi Zambin and Suhaime Md Yussof might not have known who to mark there was nothing Simunic could do but just cover his face and turn away.
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