14 January 2013

Croatian Bosnjak for DPMM FC?

Sunday, January 13, 2013
DPMM FC might make its biggest signing in history in the next few days.

Croatian striker Ivan Bosnjak, 33, is the latest in a string of players who are trying out for Brunei's only professional club — though the rest can't boast of ever playing at a World Cup.

Bosnjak, an 87th minute substitute for captain Darijo Srna during Croatia's 0-0 draw with Japan in their second Group F match of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, is probably the most experienced footballer to step onto the team's grounds at the Jerudong Mini Stadium — and he definitely impressed with his pace and power during yesterday's training session.

Bosnjak — who has 14 caps and one international goal to his name — also laced up in six of Croatia's 2006 World Cup qualifying matches against Sweden, Hungary, Malta and Iceland, playing in both the home and away legs against Malta and Iceland.

He heard about the opportunity to play for Brunei's biggest club from compatriot Dino Drpic, the centre-back becoming the club's latest signing after proving his worth during the team's journey to Banda Aceh, Indonesia for last month's Governor Aceh Trophy — part of DPMM FC's preparation for next month's Singapore League (S-League) campaign.

The duo played together in Croatia for Dinamo Zagreb — who currently lead the top-tier Prva HNL — from 2004 to 2006, ending the 2005/06 season as league champions and Bosnjak with the competition's top-scorer award after netting 22 goals. The pair met again at another Prva HNL side, NK Reijka, where they played the whole of last season.

Bosnjak has played for Belgian side Racing Genk, Libyan team Al Ittihad and Croatia's Cibalia — where he started his career under the guidance of DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic. Like Bosnjak, Simunic has also played for Hadjuk Split — one of the most successful teams in Croatia.

Bosnjak isn't here just to renew old friendships though.

"I didn't take a 25 hour flight just to look around," he noted.

"This is my first time playing with the team and I'm satisfied. I trained yesterday (Friday) but today was my first time playing.

"I think if I have more time, maybe 10 days, I will be fully adjusted," he added.

He didn't look to have any problems adjusting to yesterday's training session though.

He set up two goals in the second half with accurate crosses into the box, and he also impressed with his first touch, ability to shield the ball and speed on the flanks — all attributes a striker of his caliber is expected to possess.

Drpic was a commanding presence in the middle of defense, with his positioning, aerial prowess, distribution and dribbling - rare for a centre-back - looking to be his strengths. "We're best friends," grinned Drpic when asked how well he knew Bonjak.

"I can see a lot of potential here," he replied when asked to comment on his first impression of the club.

"The team lacks a bit of experience but that is something that I hope myself, and other foreign players, will help bring to the side.

"I'm sure we can make a really good team," he insisted.

Drpic is one of the four imports currently on the DPMM FC books, the other three being Portuguese striker Joao Vitor Rocha De Carvalho Moreira, Guadeloupean midfielder Stephane Auvray and Brazilian centre-back Tales Ricarte dos Santos. Dos Santos is currently in Brazil recovering from a knee injury but is expected to be back before the start of the S-League.

Next season's S-League regulations allow for five imports, and if Bosnjak does sign on, he will replace another Croatian named Ivan.

A fan favourite for years, central midfielder Ivan Jerkovic was released with Ghanian striker Osman Basiru and Brazilian forward Patrick Roberto Daniel Da Silva at the end of the last S-League season in November. 

The Brunei Times

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