20 January 2012

S-League: DPMM FC lose French rival

Yee Chun Leong

Friday, January 20, 2012

ONE DOWN 13 more to go.

DPMM FC will have one less team to worry about after the 2010 Singapore League (S-League) and Singapore League Cup champions, French club Etoile FC, pulled out of the upcoming S-League.

The news came on Monday, when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that there will only be 13 teams, instead of the 14 originally announced, competing in the 2012 S-League season.

DPMM FC are aiming for a Top-5 finish in their return to the S-League and head coach Vjeran Simunic feels that there is still a lot to do despite Etoile FC's decision.

"All the teams in the S-League are strong this season. They (Etoile FC) won in their first season with new players, but last year they had already let go of all those players. Some of them have moved to local clubs though," said Simunic during an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.

"I believe that every team will be equally matched because most local sides have naturalised players," he added.

"We are not sure how it will unfold, but everyone has got their own target in the league," continued the Croatian.

Simunic said DPMM FC have to work hard to at least get to the level that they were at two years ago.

"We need to be better than what we were before (in 2009). We will watch some tapes on how other teams play, but I trust in our players to get better," said Simunic.

"It won't be easy especially that our players haven't had professional training, but we will all try our best to achieve our target," added Simunic, who guided DPMM FC to be the first foreign team to lift the Singapore League Cup in 2009.

The team have started training since October and had their first competitive match on Wednesday night against Chiangrai United beating the visitors 2-1 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

Brazilian striker Rodrigo Grahl and local hitman Shahrazen Md Said both had their names on the scoresheet in the victory.

Etoile FC have decided to sit out for the season citing debts and liabilities carried forward from the previous management.

Etoile FC chairman, Hicham Moudden, said that the club and S-League management had held several meetings to look at many possibilities, but were unsuccessful in finding a solution so that they could continue to play in the new season.

Moudden added that the club's management will spend the next few months re-prioritising their resources and objectives in hopes to returning to the S-League when the right time comes.

The 13 teams in the 2012 S-League will compete in a two-round format, with each team playing 24 league games in total.

Harimau Muda of Malaysia will make their debut in the new season.

The Charity Shield between last year's S-League champions Tampines Rovers FC and Singapore Cup champions Home United FC will act as the curtain raiser for the new season on Feb 5 at Jalan Besar Stadium just before the new season commences on Feb 9.The Brunei Times

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