30 March 2012

Protecting their 100% record

Jason Thomas

Friday, March 30, 2012

DPMM FC'S unbeaten Singapore League (S-League) run topped Shahrazen Said's (pic, foreground in red) mind ahead of tonight's game against Gombak United FC.

The unbeaten record is one they share with Harimau Muda (Malaysian Under-23 team), and both sides' dodged determination to maintain the status quo went a long way in explaining the feisty 1-1 draw when they met last Thursday, when DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic was sent to the stands and hence will not be on the bench for today's match, according to a report on Gombak United's website.

Gombak, whose only win came on March 9 when they beat Tanjong Pagar United FC 3-0, head into tonight's game as underdogs though the tie at the Jurong West Stadium in Singapore between DPMM FC, the 2009 Singapore League champions, and Gombak, who won the 2008 edition, might have more to it than meets the eye.

Home United FC enjoy a one-point advantage atop the 13-team table, but their unbeaten run came to an end last night when they were on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline against Tampines Rovers FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore, where Aleksander Duric (37th minute) and Ahmed Fahmie (83rd minute) provided the goals.

"We have to do the same thing we've been doing in the previous matches ... Give more than 100 per cent to get the three points and hold our unbeaten record," said the striker yesterday.

"Right now, I'm not sure which Gombak players will be a threat ... Though we must focus on the five imports," added Shahrazen, who has netted twice in the team's five games this season.

Tenth in the table with a return of six points from a possible 15 is definitely not the kind of result Gombak coach K Balagumaran will be happy with, though his counterpart Simunic (pic) won't be complaining with his team's recent stellar run.

DPMM FC, who have slipped from first after the Harimau Muda stalemate to fourth after wins by three of their nearest rivals over the course of the week, can take heart in the fact that they are tied on 11 points with second-placed Young Tigers, third-placed Tampines and fifth-placed Balestier Khalsa FC which means they can top the table once again if they win tonight's match.

A high-scoring draw will also be enough for the visitors to leave the Jurong West Stadium at the summit of the league, and a lot of that will depend on how well Simunic's forward three can link up.

Shahrazen has been playing well with strike partner Osman Basiru, whose surging runs down the flanks usually on the left almost always end up with a foul on the Ghanaian or a scoring opportunity.

The team's top scorer with three goals, Basiru will know that he will be a marked man tonight.

Shahrazen is no pushover either, finishing joint top scorer during the Malaysian Super League (MSL) 2006/2007 season with 21 goals to prove his status as one of the region's top marksmen.

Though DPMM FC have netted 11 times this season, the attacking trio of Basiru the team's top scorer with three goals Shahrazen and Rodrigo Gral have hardly set the league on fire.

It is easier said than done though, considering both Basiru and Gral are in their first season with the club.

Gral has been getting some mixed reviews since joining, but the former Jubilo Iwata and Yokohama Marinos man has proved his worth with timely contributions.

The Brazilian netted DPMM FC's only goal during the fiery 1-1 draw against Harimau Muda, opening his accounts for the club by scoring the winner in their 2-1 result over then league leaders Albirex Niigata FC (S) on March 11 in another crucial game.

The goal against Harimau Muda was the first time the Malaysians found their net breached, making the strike which came from a Basiru pass all the more memorable.

Last night also saw Tanjong Pagar United FC pick up their first victory of the season after Hafiz Osman netted in the 72nd minute to secure a 1-0 win over Geylang United FC in the bottom of the table clash at the Queenstown Stadium. Tanjong Pagar now move up to 11th from 12th to displace Geylang.

The result also means that the Courts Young Lions (Singapore Under-23 team) are the only team yet to pick up a point, languishing at the foot of the league but with only four games to their name, have played the least amount of matches this campaign.

Home United, in contrast, have taken to the field seven times so far.The Brunei Times

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