28 January 2012

Tough draw: To cry or not to cry ...

Jason Thomas

Saturday, January 28, 2012

VJERAN Simunic (pic) doesn't know if he should be crying or laughing.

The DPMM FC coach was among the first in the country to hear his team would open their Singapore League (S-League) season against defending champions Tampines Rovers FC their last opponents before they were forced to leave the league in 2009 because of FIFA's suspension on the Sultanate, which has now been lifted.

The match, which might be set for Feb 9 at a venue yet to be confirmed, was announced during Thursday night's S-League season launch at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, which, according to ESPN, featured a fixture draw for the first time in the competition's 16-year history.

"Well ... We got the best of the best!" exclaimed Simunic yesterday.

"I don't know whether it's a good thing to play the strong teams first maybe sometimes it's better that way.

"We will be preparing hard this week then turn it down next week," added the Croatian who guided DPMM FC to the Singapore League Cup in 2009, making them the first foreign side to lift the trophy.

DPMM FC's first meeting with the Stags on April 3, 2009, ended in a 1-1 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore while the second on July 10, 2009, saw the hosts record a 2-1 win at the same venue. The third, which was their last game before they were forced to pull out of the S-League with just four games left in their debut season, was a 2-2 draw at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas on Sept 29, 2009.

Despite the results Simunic believed the team shouldn't be taking anything for granted especially since they have not played a competitive game since the 2-2 stalemate.

"During our three games against them we drew twice and lost once," Simunic pointed out.

"They have developed a lot over the years and they have really reinforced their teams with new imports.

"We go into the competition (S-League) with just one serious game, but I'm always prepared for anything," said the coach, referring to DPMM FC's biggest pre-season test, a 2-1 win over Thai Premier League side Chiangrai United FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium last week.

With Tampines taking to the Jalan Besar Stadium next Sunday for the Charity Shield against 2011 RHB Singapore Cup champions Home United, Simunic said the chance the curtain-raiser provided him to scout the Stags out was one not to be missed.

Tampines beat Home United to the 2011 S-League title by a single point and the clash against their rivals is shaping up to be one which S-League fans and the wily coach will not want to miss.

"Absolutely! I will need to go to Singapore to watch them play the Charity Shield first," said Simunic.

"I heard they have a new line-up and formation so it's necessary for me to see them. Then I will have a clearer understanding of their strengths.

"I don't know when our game against them will be, but I doubt it'll be on Feb 9 because they play another big game, the Charity Shield, on Feb 5 so they can ask the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to play after that (Feb 9)."The Brunei Times

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