11 May 2013

It's Santos to the rescue

Saturday, May 11, 2013
TALES Ricarte dos Santos' dramatic 90th minute goal helped DPMM FC snap a two game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Home United FC last night, the Brazilian also scoring the opener and providing an assist for Adi Said in a career-defining match which also saw him pull off a goal-line clearance.

Home looked to have dealt DPMM FC another potentially fatal blow at home after Jordan Webb hit a 87th minute equaliser when pouncing on a mix-up in defence to slot the ball into an empty net, but striding confidently forward, Santos had other ideas.

Substitute Ak Fakharazzi Pg Hj Hassan's volley hit the inside of the right post and rolled onto the path of Santos, who calmly side-footed the ball past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Shahril Jantan going on to celebrate wildly with the rest of the team and the fans at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

DPMM FC entered the game having lost both of their previous two home matches, and their scoring touch along with it, so Santos couldn't have picked a better time to produce his best performance of the Singapore League season.

Perhaps more crucially, the match marked the first time the team took to the field after releasing the import trio of striker Ivan Bosnjak, midfielder Stephen Auvray and defender Dino Drpic on Wednesday and the club's only other import, Portuguese striker Joao Moreira, was still on the injury list.

Most of the pre-match talk revolved around how DPMM FC would cope without the import trio who were dismissed after poor form and injury and striker Shahrazen Said, who was out with a hamstring strain.

But Brunei's only professional club proved their depth and character last night, and putting their bodies on the line, outran and out-fought the visitors until the final whistle in a match that is set to go down as a season-changer for a side which finished second last season but has failed to live up to expectations this term.

"I have always told my teammates that their level is very good, better than the Singaporean (locals)," said Santos, who now has three S-League goals this season.

"If we fight, are smart, play with the ball and attack... We can win.

"We showed today we can fight for 90 minutes. Home scored a late equaliser but we always believed.

"I remember telling the team the same thing when we played Home in last year's League Cup quarter-finals.

"We were down 1-0 and I told the team we cannot lose. I went up and scored after a cross from Param (Azwan Salleh) and we went on to win the game on penalties," said Santos, who thanked his physiotherapist Saulo de Tarso for helping him recover from a knee operation before the start of the season.

"I am 100 per cent recovered and I must thank my physiotherapist, Saulo de Tarso, for that. He worked with me for only three months and now I am alright," he added.

Santos gave DPMM FC the lead after heading home a corner from captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis after eight minutes, though Home replied straight from the kick-off when Masrezwan Masturi beat goalkeeper Wardun Yussof at his near post, handing the Protectors a precious psychological boost.

DPMM FC would regain their cushion when the towering Santos headed a corner to Adi, who scored unmarked on the far post in the 27th minute.

The confident Mohd Hendra Azam Mohd Idris was pulling all the strings in the DPMM FC midfield with some strong running and accurate passing the whole game, but their best chance of the second half fell to left-winger Sairol Hj Sahari who connected well on a 76th minute cross from Ak Fakharazzi but saw Shahril up to the task.

Piling on the pressure, Home would hit the post twice in the last 10 minutes with South Korean playmaker Lee Kwan-Woo also unlucky to see his 40-yard free-kick bounce off the bar early in the second half.

Wardun also had to save a free-kick from French defender Sirina Camara and another from Lee, and it was only due to some good tracking back and positional awareness that DPMM FC were able to maintain their lead.

The visitors' persistence paid off when Wardun came out of his box and Webb stole in for the equaliser, but DPMM FC didn't let the goal affect them.

Trotting up from defence, Santos took a gamble that would pay off handsomely though his coach's insistence that the win was down to a team effort was entirely understandable.

"Tales was not the player of the match, DPMM FC was. Many players were not 100 per cent but they gave their best, and they are all heroes," said Vjeran Simunic, whose team now jumps two spots to fifth.

"For me, this was one of the most important games in my life because this was the start of a new era for DPMM FC," added last season's S-League Coach of the Year.

Even Home's assistant coach was impressed with DPMM FC's strong fighting spirit.

"Credit to them, they worked hard even though they had no foreign players and they took their chances," said Aidil Sharin Sahak.

"We could see their commitment and determination, and they closed us down well."

The Brunei Times

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