DPMM FC will taste their first competitive football against Bakes FC in the Brunei Super League 2021 at the Jerudong Park Mini Stadium in Jerudong tonight.
The Gegar Gegar men have not made any league appearance since hosting Tampines Rovers FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on March 6 last year, which was later annulled following their withdrawal from the Singapore Premier League.
The Brunei-based outfit will mark their return to domestic football for the first time since making the switch from the then-called B-League in 2004 to the Malaysia Premier League.
“We’re looking forward to play competitive football again after one year and three months. We’re very hungry for it,” DPMM FC head coach Adrian Pennock told the Sunday Bulletin.
He added, “Everybody has been very good especially through restrictions. We’ve been very respectful with what the government has told us to do. It has been difficult but we’ve just gone on with it and been very professional.
“We can’t wait for Sunday. It doesn’t matter what league we play in and who we play. I just think us playing competitively again is very important.”
Pennock, who guided DPMM FC to the Singapore Premier League title in 2019, said their targets remain the same which is to win every game.
The head coach also lauded the work of the club’s fitness coach Jason Moriarty amid the absence of competitive football.
“Jason Moriarty (fitness coach) has done exceptionally well during the year and three months that we have been out. He has kept the players fitter and stronger when we had a lot of downtime,” he said.
The Jerudong-based team have not met local opposition since a 1-0 win over AH United in September 2005, which was then annulled as they discontinued their season in the Brunei top flight.
Pennock said they will treat their opponents with respect as they begin their quest for a third national title since lifting the trophy in 2002 and 2004, saying, “we will respect Bakes like we would if we’re playing Tampines or Albirex in the Singapore Premier League”.
DPMM FC have added rising star Nur Asyraffahmi Norsamri in their ranks from Kota Ranger FC.
“We have seen him before in the Brunei Super League, and we invited him over,” said Pennock adding that he watched Kota Ranger FC play before the Brunei Super League was called off in March last year.
“Even before when we’re playing in the Singapore Premier League in 2019, I was still watching local games here.”
On what he can bring to the team, Pennock said, “Nur Asyraffahmi has a very good footballing brain and he will score goals. We’re very excited and he’s been very good in the time we had off and has settled in really well.”
The Ipswich-born has also been aiding the development of younger players notably with the emergence of teenage sensation Hakeme Yazid bin Said and 20-year-old Wafi Aminuddin during their championship-winning season, as well as Hanif Farhan Azman last year.
“We want to get the younger players through. We got young Farhan, Keme and obviously Nur Asyraffahmi,” he said.
“I’ve seen the DPMM FC under-15 game. Recruitment is very important here especially young ones and they have to take their chance.
“The hardest thing for me come Sunday is the ones that I leave out and are not in the match-day squad.
“We have a big squad so it will be difficult for me to leave people out. But, I know that the players are very professional and they understand the situation.
“It doesn’t mean that they will not play the next game and there might be a possibility that they play the next game. Competition for places is very strong,” the head coach said.