DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic feels that his local boys have grown up now.
The Croatian feels that there isn't too much to worry about for their preparations for the upcoming season of the Singapore League (S-League) kicking off next month.
Simunic only requires a bit more time to allow the team to gel together with the import players.
"The Bruneian players have grown up and they have been playing together for a while now. Eventhough we recently got back to full training but I'm not too worried because I can say that we are at 70 per cent at the moment," said Simunic in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
"It is not easy to find the best import players that fit in especially since most would have been signed by other teams by now.
"But what we need now is time. We have a lineup change of foreign players and we will need them to coordinate with the local players," he added.
"Even if we have four (Lionel) Messis on the team, we won't be able to do anything if they can't play with the locals.
"Hopefully the local players can maintain the level they were at last year or even improve. They are not limited to where they are right now. I feel that we are able to compete with the other countries in the region," continued the Croatian, who watched his side steamroll DST Super League side Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) 7-0 in a friendly at the Jerudong Mini Stadium yesterday.
Brunei's only professional football team have filled up four of the five slots available with the signings of Croatian defender Dino Drpic, Portuguese striker Joao Vitor Rocha De Carvalho Moreira, Guadeloupean midfielder Stephane Auvray and Brazilian defender Tales Ricarte dos Santos.
The team finished as runners-up in the S-League last season and became the first team to win the Singapore League Cup twice.
The head coach feels that it might be their biggest challenge to maintain their position.
"Singapore are champions of the AFF Suzuki Cup and we are going to be challenging the best in the region.
"We are ready for the S-League but we know what it will be quite a tough challenge," said Simunic, who was named the Coach of the Year last season.
"(Champions) Tampines are an excellent team and have reinforced themselves to become stronger for this upcoming season as well.
"Teams like SAF FC are playing in Thailand and Home United in Korea. That is what we are missing - the challenge of big teams. But we have to make the best of our situation by playing against the local teams," he added.
"It will not be an easy task to maintain our top-five target this year. We respect all teams and we are going to stand our ground.
"People have been talking about us and I think we have earned some respect after finishing as runners-up last season. We are one of the big teams now and others will be looking to topple us," continued Simunic.
"I'm also thankful to the players that have work commitments and still have to come all the way to training everyday as well," he concluded.The Brunei Times