03 November 2012

DPMM FC finish 2nd best

Saturday, November 3, 2012
DPMM FC will have to settle for second in the Singapore League (S-League) after putting in a dull display to lose 2-0 to Balestier Khalsa FC in last night's title-decider the first time they were held goalless at home all season and snapping a five-game winning streak.

Failing to shift gears as the match wore on, DPMM FC found it tough to break down a resilient Balestier defence and eventually fell to their third home loss of the S-League campaign a result which combined with Tampines Rovers FC's 1-0 win against Malaysian national Under-23 team Harimau Muda in last night's other match, saw the Stags retain their crown.

DPMM FC's midfield had a hard time playing as a unit despite the sizable support at the soaked Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

They struggled to penetrate Balestier Khalsa's defence and found chances few and far in between in a game they had to win and hope for dropped points from Tampines.

The club can still look back at their first full S-League campaign their debut in 2009 was stopped with five games to go because of FIFA's suspension on Brunei as one filled with numerous positives though, becoming the only team to win the Singapore League Cup for the second time in August and blooding new talent the likes of striker Adi Said and defender Ampuan Mohd Nurul Azami Ampuan Hussin.

Add in the fact that the team were left out of competitive football for two years because of the suspension, finishing second was a huge achievement especially considering their target at the start was only a place in the top-5.

The 75th minute substitution of injured centre-back Ampuan Mohd Nurul Azami and right-back Hj Muhd Subhi Abdilah Hj Bakir changed the face of last night's game, and Balestier stunned the stadium when Zulkiffli Hassim headed in a 80th minute goal and Park Kang-jin produced an even bigger shocker by chipping goalkeeper Wardun Yussof seven minutes later both goals coming from fluid counter-attacks.

Balestier looked content to sit back with their five-man back-line and play on the break, a tactic which earned them their 12th clean sheet of the S-League campaign and proving just why they have the stingiest defence in the league after only letting in 20 goals all season.

Attributing the loss to bad luck, DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic said that Fahrudin Mustafic's 41st minute penalty for Tampines at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore demotivated the players once the news filtered down to the dressing room at half-time.

"When we went in at the break and heard that Tampines were ahead... The boys were down," admitted Simunic.

"I knew that it would be hard when Ampuan and Subhi were injured and I had to take them out.

"Like what I've said before, Balestier are a team with the best organisation.

"They waited for us to make a mistake, and we took risks to try and win the game but we lost," added the Croatian.

Balestier's Zdravko Dragicevic scuttled the first chance of the game with a weak attempt in the seventh minute, with Azwan Salleh's long-range attempt in the 16th minute DPMM FC's first shot of note.

Ivan Jerkovic had the best chance for the hosts after winning the ball in the middle of the park and forcing a save from Zakariah Nerani after a shot from outside the box on the half-hour mark.

Ruhaizad Ismail should have given the visitors the lead nine minutes later but blazed the shot wide despite only having Wardun to beat with both his and Dragicevic's chances coming from Park's crosses.

Perhaps sensing that DPMM FC were reeling from the news that Tampines were ahead, Balestier came out the hungrier side at the start of the second half, with their best chance coming in the 53rd minute when Ruhaizad hit the side netting.

The unmarked Patrick Roberto Daniel Da Silva had a golden opportunity to put DPMM FC in front but was unable to test Zakariah with a shot from outside the box after Balestier failed to clear their lines in the 70th minute.

Park forced Wardun into a double-save in the 76th minute, but Balestier wouldn't be denied four minutes later when the ever-reliable DPMM FC captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis was robbed off the ball by three players after spending too long with it in midfield.

Flowing forward with intent, substitute Andrew Tan sent in a delightful cross from the left to Zulkiffli, who headed it home past a diving Wardun.

Though Rosmin would later apologise for the mistake, the damage was already done.

With momentum on their side, Balestier scored another goal against the run of play when their defence booted a DPMM FC corner-kick up the field and onto the onrushing Park.

He raced through to goal without a defender in sight and cooly chipped the onrushing Wardun for one of the best goals scored at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium all year with left-back Sairol Hj Sahari receiving his second yellow card for protesting.

With it also being the last S-League goal fans would see this campaign, it was only fitting that the match would end in such dramatic fashion.

The Brunei Times

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