01 November 2011

Fan favourite Jerkovic on his way back to DPMM FC

Jason Thomas

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

IVAN JERKOVIC would welcome a move back to DPMM FC.

The Croatian midfielder, who was highly respected during his time with Brunei's only professional club, currently plies his trade at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) FC.

The 32-year-old was an integral cog in Vjeran Simunic's midfield during their time in the Singapore League (S-League) and was DPMM FC's leading scorer with four goals heading into their 2009 Singapore League Cup final win against his current employers.

With DPMM FC looking to return to the S-League, and still in search of their fourth import, Jerkovic whose contract expires on Nov 30 is keeping his options open.

"I don't see any problem coming back," he said in an exclusive interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.

"My contract expires on Nov 30 and the (SAF FC) management called me to their office a few days ago to ask about my plan for the next season. I said I won't go back to Croatia ... I want to stay in Asia.

"But we will start talks about a new deal soon so I need to know what to do.

"I enjoyed my time in Brunei. The people were very friendly and the players very good ... (midfielders) Hj Muhd Subhi Abdilah Hj Bakir, Sairol Hj Sahari, Rosmin Hj Md Kamis, (defender) Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit, (striker) Shahrazen Hj Md Said.

"I'm turning 33 on January but I've been the only player to play in every game this season. I've got no problems with injury I can still run.

"Look at Duric (Tampines Rovers FC striker Aleksandar Duric). He's 41 but he has 25 goals this season," he pointed out.

The midfielder said that though he would like to return to DPMM FC, it was not up to him to decide and contact with the club's management has yet to be made.

Though he admitted the club has yet to talk to the Croatian, Pg Waslimin PSJ Pg Hj Abd Momin sounded positive enough when asked about the matter.

"We (the management) must first sit down and talk about it," said the DPMM FC club manager yesterday.

A move back to the Sultanate will no doubt be enthusiastically met by both DPMM FC players and fans, who have long acknowledged his influence on and off the pitch. Having played with the team for the whole of their debut S-League season in 2009, Jerkovic would have no problem fitting back into the squad.

The fact that he currently plays in the S-League is also another advantage since he will not have to spend time adjusting to the style of play.

It's hardly surprising that Jerkovic was snapped up by SAF FC, who in 2009, became the first Singaporean team to feature in the Asian Champions League.

The eight-time S-League winners, who are the most successful club in the competition's 15-year history, surely knew that a player of Jerkovic's caliber would easily fit in.

The midfielder has always had an eye for the goal after all, he was DPMM FC's second best goal scorer in the league in 2009 with seven goals, a record he shared with Algerian striker Abdel Hamid Berguiga.

Striker Shahrazen Hj Md Said topped the team in scoring that season with eight.

He is also enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment, another encouraging sign if DPMM FC do choose to bring him back.

Grabbing the fourth goal during SAF FC's 6-3 win over Geylang United in last night's S-League match, the strike brought his tally for the season to 10.

He has found the net eight times in the league and bagged both goals during his team's 2-2 draw against Albirex Niigata FC (S) in the Singapore Cup quarter-finals on Aug 18.

Though he twice helped SAF FC come from behind to force the game into penalties Jerkovic converted his they would eventually lose 7-6 to the Japanese side.

The former Pelita Jaya FC star chipped in with one assist in their 4-1 win against Etoile FC in the S-League last Friday and netted twice during the 3-0 win over Courts Young Lions last Tuesday. More impressively, he played provider in all three goals when SAF FC beat Hougang United FC 3-1 on Oct 19.

"I don't know how many I've assisted this season ... Perhaps 15 or 20," he said.

Jerkovic has also been a threat in set-pieces, with three of the four goals he scored during DPMM FC's championship run in the 2009 Singapore League Cup coming from dead ball situations.

Defender Tales Ricarte dos Santos (Brazil), midfielder George O'Callaghan (Ireland) and striker Osman Basiru (Ghana) comprise the club's current stable of imports, though they have yet to make an impact in training.

The Brunei Times

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