Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
DPMM FC face their biggest test of the season when they take on defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) FC in the final of the Singapore League Cup tonight. It is the reigning Singapore League (S-League) champions’ best chance of winning silverware this season having been dumped out of the Singapore Cup in the quarter-finals and 16 points behind the Japanese outfits in the S-League with eight matches remaining. DPMM FC coach Steve Kean said tonight’s title decider at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore is their biggest match of this season and hopes they can deliver the goods. “This is by far the biggest match of the season. We have been improving after a poor start and are getting better,” Kean told The Brunei Times yesterday. “Hopefully we can win this and finish off the league strongly for another good season,” he added. DPMM FC — who will be looking to win the Singapore League Cup for the fourth time — lost both their meetings against Albirex in the S-League, including a 2-1 loss at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas on April 22. Despite past results, Kean feels that the April 22 tie saw them produce one of their best performances of the season. “The last meeting in Brunei was probably the best game and performance we have had this season - but never got the result. Hopefully this time we will have both,” said Kean. “We have been tough to break down and give our opponents very few chances in this competition. “Our defence has improved and hopefully it will remain that way,” added the Scotsman. DPMM FC are enjoying their best spell of the season with five straight wins — four in the competition which includes four clean sheets and have yet to concede in open play. However, they will have to defend against joint S-League topscorer Atsushi Kawata, who is tied with Brazilian forward Rafael Ramazotti with 12 goals apiece. The Japanese is in fine form after bagging a hat-trick in their 4-0 win against Tampines Rovers FC in Tuesday’s semi-finals. “We are not going to man-to-man mark him (Kawata) even though he is the league topscorer as it will give other players space,” explained Kean. “We have to make sure we pick him up when he is in the zone and then man-to-man him when he is in the box,” added the former Blackburn Rovers manager. It is almost a trend for Albirex to start off their season strongly before dwindling later on in the season. However, they have showed no signs of slowing down this year. “They’ve got a deeper squad and have more experience with older players in the team,” said Kean. “Normally, they are predominantly young players and tail off towards the end of the season. “They are different and organised this year. They are holding it together with a new coach and their training is helping them sustain (their good performances),” he added. Kean is also delighted to have Portuguese forward Paulo Sergio back from a two-game suspension and believes that he can make an impact. “He is always a big miss when not playing. He is the best player in the league, if not in the top two or three,” said the 48-year-old. “He can get behind the defence and is a tricky and clever player. It is great to have him back,” concluded Kean. DPMM FC will be missing defender Ak Yura Indera Putera Pg Yunos who is suspended for the encounter, with Abdul Aziz Tamit set to start in his place.
The Brunei Times - See more at: http://www.bt.com.bn/sports-national/2016/07/29/dpmm-fc-biggest-game-their-season#sthash.DFqR5ilt.dpuf