26 October 2012

Bringing football fever back

Friday, October 26, 2012
IT WAS as if football had never left Brunei.

Despite Brunei serving a two year ban by FIFA from international football, the Sultanate's only professional club DPMM FC find themselves neck to neck with Tampines Rovers FC in the race for the Singapore League (S-League) title.

The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (BAFA) was deregistered from the Registrar of Societies in November 2008 for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested.

It was then suspended by FIFA for government interference during its executive committee meeting in September 2009.

The ban was lifted on May 30, 2011 thanks to the normalisation committee, which was chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, who is now the Honorary President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), during FIFA's annual congress.

Defending champions Tampines currently lead the Bruneian side by one point with both teams having a final game to play.

Both teams will take to the field next Friday with DPMM FC taking on Balestier Khalsa FC while the Stags play Harimau Muda (Malaysian national Under-23 team).

A win alone will not be enough for DPMM FC to hoist the trophy, they will also be praying for a Tampines slip up.

A Tampines win will mean DPMM FC end the season at second, an impressive feat for a squad that have been missing from competitive football in two years.

But DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic has set his eyes on victory in their final match of the season at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

"In the last 23 games, we were never relaxed. We played 200 per cent in every game," said Simunic.

He attributed Wednesday's 3-1 win against Hougang United FC as one of the most crucial.

"The win makes us concentrate more and we must not lose that confidence," said the head coach.

"Hougang is a wonderful team... we were under a lot of pressure in that game but we showed why we are one of the best teams in the region," he said.

But the coach knows that the fate of his team lies in the hands of a under-powered Harimau Muda, currently missing a number of players called up for national duty.

"Tampines have really good players and if Harimau Muda does not play their full team... the match between these two clubs will be a 50-50 (toss up)," said Simunic.

The Croatian added that even if they were to finish the season as runner-ups, it would be a fantastic result for the team whose initial target was to secure a top-five finish in the league.

Simunic also used the opportunity to call out all Brunei fans to provide their full support for the club come Friday.

"For this last game, I expect at least 30,000 or more people to come and support the team," he said.

The Brunei Times

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