26 January 2012

DPMM FC await S-League draw

Jason Thomas

Thursday, January 26, 2012

TODAY'S Singapore League (S-League) draw marks the next step in DPMM FC's return to the competition they were forced to leave three years ago.

FIFA's suspension on Brunei in 2009 meant the Singapore League Cup holders had to abandon their debut S-League season with only four games left.

Though fans of the Sultanate's only professional football side were left complaining about the ruling, they'll have plenty to celebrate about today when the 24-game schedule is made public.

The league is played in a triple round-robin format, where each team face the other three times and the champions crowned upon completion of the third round.

DPMM FC club manager Pg Waslimin PSJ Pg Hj Abd Momin will be in Singapore for the draw, and though the S-League has already come up with the fixtures for the Feb 9 kick-off which will see 13 teams in action, the sides do not yet know who they will play.

"The fixture has already been made, but it is only numbers ... 1 vs 2, 3 vs 4 for example," explained DPMM FC team manager Ali Hj Momin yesterday.

"We don't know which number we are so Pg Waslimin will be there to pick it," he added.

Ali also pointed out that with the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) slated for Feb 25 to March 9, the club were looking at talking to the S-League to schedule away matches during that period.

A biennial tournament for Under-21 national teams in the region, the event is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who desired that an Under-21 football tournament be organised with the aim of increasing friendship and understanding between Southeast Asian youth through sports.

"The season starts on Feb 9 so there is still time for us to play at home (at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas)," said Ali.

"But during the HBT ... We are trying to negotiate with the S-League so maybe we can play away (games) during that period.

"We haven't asked them yet because we want to know what is the draw like first," added the former national player and 1999 Malaysia Cup winner.

The team manager also said that today's draw would not include Singapore Cup (RHB Cup) and League Cup matches which will be decided on at a later date.

DPMM FC are one of the two new teams in this season's league, the other being Malaysia's Harimau Muda (Malaysian Under-23 national team). The only other foreign team in the league are Albirex Niigata FC (Singapore), a satellite team of Albirex Niigata FC who source all their players from Japan.

The 2012 season was supposed to include 14 teams, but the number was cut to 13 after 2010 champions Etoile FC announced last week that they were pulling out because of financial reasons.

Etoile were a revelation in their debut season in 2010, winning not only the S-League but also the League Cup and finishing third in the RHB Cup an event which includes foreign sides.

DPMM FC have already stated their aim is a top-five finish but they know they have their work cut out for them since their last competitive game was on Sept 29, 2009 a 2-2 draw against Tampines Rovers FC in the S-League.

They played a charity game against Thai Premier League side Chiangrai United FC last Wednesday, where a 2-1 win over a side filled with imports was hailed as a tactical achievement by coach Vjeran Simunic.

But the S-League, which will run until November and test their consistency and squad depth, will prove to be a tougher task.The Brunei Times

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