17 December 2011

Back in the Lion's den

Yee Chun Leong

Saturday, December 17, 2011

DPMM FC are back in the Lion's den and are ready for the challenge, too.

Brunei's only professional football club, DPMM FC, are back in the Singapore League, according to the FAS website.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) informed clubs last week that next year's S-League will see 14 teams compete in a two-round format. The 14 teams include DPMM FC and Malaysia's Young Tigers.

The news was yesterday confirmed by DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic, who welcomes it with open arms.

"That is good news for us. We have started preparing (since October) and it is not easy from the start especially with the players having had no games for the past two years," said Simunic during an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.

"We are working very hard and I can say that we are at 75 per cent to the level that we want to reach," he added.

FIFA's two-year suspension on Brunei, which was only lifted in May, meant that DPMM FC have not played a competitive game since their 2-2 draw against Tampines Rovers FC on Sept 29, 2009.

DPMM FC were the first foreign side to lift the Singapore League Cup in the same year, but the coach believes that they will have to be better than what they were.

"We will even need to be better than what we were two years ago since the league is getting more competitive with clubs like Etoile FC of France in the fray," said Simunic.

"But everyday there is good news because I can see steady improvement. We are hungry for the challenge and I have faith in the players. The local players are not afraid and have all responded well working hard as a team," added the Croatian.

"We have had a lot of young players come for tryouts as well and the future of Brunei football definitely looks good," continued Simunic.

The biggest problem for the team is the lack of competitive games. Despite this, the coach believes that they can attain what they want in the near future.

"We need to be patient and we should be able to get to the level we want by July next year. The only problem is that we haven't had enough friendly games to test our form," said Simunic.

"We're also not able to see the full potential of the import players at this point as well," he added.

So far the team can only split themselves into two teams for scrimmages, but according to the coach they play at a high intensity to test their potential.

The club have also maxed out their quota of import players with defender Tales Ricarte dos Santos, midfielder George O'Callaghan, striker Osman Basiru and local fan favourite Ivan Jerkovic.

The S-League is scheduled to kick off on Feb 9, just days after the curtain raiser which is the Charity Shield fixture between champions Tampines Rovers and Home United, winners of the RHB Singapore Cup, on Feb 5.The Brunei Times

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