01 September 2012

Down but surely not out

Saturday, September 1, 2012
TWO PENALTIES, one red card, and a whole lot of emotion at the end of the night, all it made for was one miserable point for DPMM FC.

Ten-man DPMM FC were made to work for last night's 1-1 draw with Gombak United FC, the result, a bitter pill for Vjeran Simunic's men to swallow after Shahrulrizal Abd Rahman was sent to the showers in the 54th minute by referee W Ravisanthiran who, only after consulting with the linesman and fourth official, felt the right-back deserved a straight red for bringing down Julien Durand and preventing a scoring opportunity, which only video replays will confirm was at the edge of the box or inside.

Despite left-back Sairol Hj Sahari also backtracking after captain and makeshift libero Rosmin Kamis lost the ball in midfield,and like Shahrulrizal, was involved in stopping Durand meaning the right-back was not the last man did not matter to the Singaporean referee.

The Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas rose as one when Wardun Yussof saved Mustaqim Manzur's penalty, but it might have been too much to ask from the goalkeeper to save the second.

Rosmin brought down Ahmad Suhaimi in the 80th minute, the substitute perhaps reacting too dramatically to contact though Ravisanthiran didn't hesitate in pointing to the spot this time.

Gombak's Nigerian-born Singaporean team captain Gabriel Obadin Aikhena confidently stepped up to convert the visitor's second penalty, shooting low and to the right as Wardun dived to the left.

The penalty cancelled out a superb 48th minute opener from Shahrazen Said, the striker netting his 10th S-League goal of the season after receiving a pass from Croatian midfielder Ivan Jerkovic and letting rip from outside the box with Gombak goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam unable to prevent the shot from nestling in the top-left corner.

DPMM FC remain third in the 13-team S-League, one point above Home United, while the Bulls move up one spot to ninth.

Looking at the bigger picture, DPMM FC must have been hoping that last month's successful Singapore League Cup run would motivate them for the rest of the S-League season but surely the high from that win has now worn off, as have memories of their lead atop the Singapore League (S-League) at the start of the campaign.

The draw means that DPMM FC now have a dismal record of one win, one draw and four losses to show from their last six S-League games, the poor point-tally coinciding with their first match of the S-League's second round, a 1-0 loss to titleholders Tampines Rovers on June 15.

The draw also left DPMM FC coach Simunic fuming at the opposition bench at the final whistle, shouting at members of the Gombak bench and declaring that the result was tainted.

"My players are heros!," he declared after he had settled down.

"All my players deserve an excellent mark.

"Wardun saved the first penalty and I am very sorry he didn't save the second.

"Maybe now we have lost the chance for a double but we are still alive. Football in Brunei will never die!

"We played with only two imports against a team with plenty of imports ... Again, we were very unlucky with the decisions," conceded the Croatian, who was forced to play without Brazilian centre-back Tales Ricarte dos Santos and Ghanian striker Osman Basiru due to a mixture of injuries and suspension, though Md Hendra Azam Md Idris certainly made his mark in midfield and Shahrazen's brother Adi was a threat throughout.

Simunic would later go on to congratulate his counterpart K Balagumaran at the tunnel, and shaking his hand, sarcastically retorted that they were a team capable of a Top-5 finish.

"I think the way the game went, we deserved at least a point," admitted Balagumaran.

"From my angle, I thought they were both penalties ... But there are always plus and minuses and everybody makes mistakes," he added.

DPMM FC midfielder Azwan Salleh cleared a Durand shot off the line in the 14th minute, and just seconds later, the Frenchman would shoot over the bar.

Relying too heavily on long-balls forward, DPMM FC didn't link up well on the attack especially with a well organised defence marshalled by Aikhena.

Gombak, on the other hand, defended stoutly in the first half and looked to play on the counter and release Durand whenever possible.

Adi had two chances before the half, as did Jerkovic, Brazilian striker Roberto Daniel Da Silva and Hendra.

DPMM FC remained composed despite Shahrulrizal's dismissal, with Gombak surprisingly failing to pressure the hosts after they were down to 10-men and happy to limit themselves to pots from long-range.

Ahmad came close to grabbing a winner for the visitors in the 84th minute, and at the other end, Jerkovic mistimed a 90th minute volley before Durand had a tame effort saved.

Balestier Khalsa FC beat Young Lions (Singaporean national under-23 team) 2-0 in last night's other game to move up to fifth and displace Harimau Muda (Malaysian national under-23 team).

Tonight's games will see Harimau Muda take on Singapore Armed Forces FC at the Yishun Stadium in Singapore and Hougang United FC host Woodlands Wellington FC at the Hougang Stadium.The Brunei Times

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