30 November 2012

Soto, Roberts On Trial in Brunei

By Wleh Bedell

Two of the country's brightest stars, James Soto Roberts and Dominic Jarteh, are currently on trial in the Asian state of Brunei with Duli Pengiran Muda Mahkota Foot Club (PPMFC). The pair arrived in that  country on Monday where they will undergo a two-week trial.

Soto who plies his trade with Premiership outfit LPRC Oilers is a typical winger with bursting pace and is one of the best local lads who has shown consistency in his game as he has regularly competed with the country's oversea based players for a place on the senior national team.

Jarteh who scored an unprecedented 20 goals to end as top scorer in the Liberian elite league last season, plies his trade with modest club Fatu FC and like the ex- Bassa Defenders and Liberia Black Star wide man Soto, was recently called on the local based squad for the duel with Mauritania on December 2, in the Local African Nations Cup qualifiers first leg first round tie at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS).

According to news from the club, the players were being monitored in the local league and were recommended by Sports Administrator Emmanuel Geeza Williams, the head of Sports to Develop Underprivileged (SDU).

Other notable players expected to move on trial at the club include ex-Arsenal and Westham winger Louis Boa Morte and former Wigan and Spurs defender Pascal Chibonda.

Also, former Brazil and Real Madrid full back Roberto Carlos is expected to visit the club shortly. The ex-bomber who is currently Sporting Director of Russian side Anzhi Makachkala, according to the report will be visiting the club to discuss ways in making them more viable.

Anzhi is in Brunie though, but, play in the top flight of Singapore.

26 November 2012

IKLS FC in semi-final

Monday, November 26, 2012

AK MD HALIM Pg Hj Hassan sent IKLS FC to the last four of the DST Brunei FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Tunas FC last night.

His 19th minute strike during the quarter-final tie at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas booked IKLS a semis date with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB), the two teams meeting up on Dec 4.

MS ABDB advanced after beating Majra FC 3-1 on Nov 9.

Quarter-final action continues tomorrow (Tuesday) with Liang Lumut Recreation Club Football Team (LLRC FT) facing Indera Sports Club at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium at 8pm. The last quarter-final match pits the Royal Brunei Police Force Sports Council against Kilanas FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on Friday.

The Brunei Times

23 November 2012

EPL's Chimbonda tries out for DPMM FC

Friday, November 23, 2012
POINTING his fingers to the heavens as he admired yesterday's orange skies over the Jerudong Mini Stadium at sunset, Pascal Chimbonda knew exactly why he has come to Brunei to tryout for DPMM FC and become possibly their biggest-ever signing.

"I don't need to explain anything ... This is a beautiful country," he grinned when asked why he chose to come to Brunei.

"I wanted a new challenge.

"I know DPMM FC finished second in the Singapore League last season and I heard a lot of good things about this country.

"I know about Brunei from the Sultan (His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam) and my agent told me to come here, try it out and stay for a bit ... So we'll see how it goes.

"I just arrived today (yesterday) so I think training will be better tomorrow (today)," added the versatile defender, whose contract at League One (English third-tier) side Doncaster Rovers expired in June.

The former Wigan and Tottenham defender is in the initial batch of three foreign players DPMM FC brought in for trials yesterday, with midfielders James Robinson and Maxime Belouet the other two.

The club are looking to sign four imports injured Brazilian centre-back Tales Ricarte dos Santos is still on their books in line with next season's S-League rules, which allow for five.

Though DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic admitted he did not know much about the ex-English Premier League player, Brunei football fans certainly need no introduction.

Part of France's 2006 World Cup squad, Chimbonda will no doubt have benefited from the experience of sharing the same dressing room with players the quality of Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.

With the club having released veteran Croatian midfielder Ivan Jerkovic and strikers Osman Basiru and Patrick Roberto Daniel Da Silva after their S-League season ended on Nov 2, DPMM FC know that Chimbonda will bring years of experience playing at the highest-level.

Chimbonda's signing, if it does work out, follows the high-profile captures of Spanish striker Daniel Guiza La Liga's topscorer in 2008 and former Middlesbrough captain George Boateng by Malaysian clubs Johor and Terengganu.

Though he does not enjoy the same stature, Chimbonda's compatriot, Belouet, might be another good signing for DPMM FC since he has previous S-League experience.

The 26-year-old played for E{aac}toile FC, a team of European-born players which won the S-League and Singapore League Cup during their debut season in 2010.

He then went on to ply his trade at Indian side Salgaocar FC, which competes in the top-tier I-League and is coached by former Brunei handler David Booth.

Robinson, meanwhile, is in his second stint in DPMM FC after injury forced him to leave last year's trials.

The 30-year-old Englishman who described himself as a box-to-box midfielder started his career at League One outfit Crewe Alexandra before moving on to Iceland's IBV.

He spent the last five years playing at various levels in Australia.The Brunei Times

DPMM FC to play in Governor Acheh Trophy

Friday, November 23, 2012
DPMM FC will be playing in the Governor Acheh Trophy next month.

DPMM FC club manager Ali Hj Momin yesterday revealed that the club has received their official letter of invitation to join the December 9-16 tournament.

"We received the letter of the invitation to play in the tournament from the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) last week. I am not sure what teams will be playing in the tournament but Malaysia will be sending teams for the tournament too," said Ali yesterday.

"We have booked tickets to Indonesia for the tournament. I still do not know how many players will travel with us but now we are having trial for new players and current players are also required to attend the trial. We will see how they will perform first."

Former English Premier League Wigan Athletics and Tottenham Hotspur defender Pascal Chimbonda is currently on trial with the club.

Asked if Chimbonda will travel with the squad to Indonesia for the tournament, the manager said: "I don't know, it is up to the coach. If we want to see him more in action, we might bring him with us.

According to NFABD's assistant general secretary Hj Mohd Taha Hj Mohd Tahir, NFABD received the invitation from Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) for DPMM FC to participate in the tournament last week.

"We received the letter last week. Football teams from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia will be competing in the tournament. We here, in NFABD, will always give a green light for the local football teams to participate in the tournaments in the region," said Hj Taha.

The last time DPMM FC played in a tournament in Indonesia was in August 2008, in the Pertamina Independence Cup football tournament where they lost to Indonesia B 2-0 and Libya Under-23 5-1.

Shahrazen Said scored the only goal for DPMM FC in the eight-day tournament in Jakarta.

Indonesia A were crowned the champions of the Pertamina Independence Cup after defeating Libya Under-23 3-1 in the final.

The Brunei Times

19 November 2012

Where do DPMM FC go?

Saturday, November 17, 2012
DPMM FC have taken a huge gamble by deciding to field a changed line-up for next season's Singapore League (S-League).

Training resumes on Tuesday, but unlike last season, there will be a few familiar faces missing at the Jerudong Mini Stadium Croatian Ivan Jerkovic (pic) the most notable.

The highly-experienced central midfielder who was surprisingly released with two other imports was considered one of the team's elder statesmen alongside captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis and vice-captain Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit.

Highly respected by players and fans alike, the club's decision to release the calm and composed Jerkovic who netted six goals and laid on 15 - is dumbfounding, especially since it does not look like they have a replacement lined up.

Strikers Osman Basiru and Patrick Roberto Daniel Da Silva could perhaps be faulted for not contributing enough to the team, and hence their return to Ghana and Brazil respectively.

But Jerkovic's symbiotic partnership in the middle of the field with Rosmin has been the foundation the team's two S-League seasons were built on seasons in which they won the Singapore League Cup twice and finished runners-up last term.

There has been talk of former English Premier League players Luis Boa Morte and Pascal Chimbonda joining the club, but the club have not gone on record to confirm their arrival yet.

DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic, who called the S-League Coach of the Year award he won last Sunday as the "crown" of his time at DPMM FC, knows just how important continuity is for success.

Despite not having played competitively for two years, the club have enhanced their reputation by finishing second last campaign and winning the Singapore League Cup for the second time and the pressure is definitely on the team to produce next season.

For that to happen though, they need experienced heads the like of Jerkovic, 33, and Pg Sallehuddin, 39, to lead by example.

13 November 2012

DPMM FC's Simunic named coach of the year

Monday, November 12, 2012
DPMM FC bench-boss Vjeran Simunic (pic) was named the Coach of the Year at last night's Singapore League (S-League) Awards Night.

This honour caps off a successful season for the Croatian tactician after guiding the club to second in the S-League and master-minding another Singapore League Cup triumph after two seasons without competitive football for the club.

Though he was disappointed to have come out second best to Tampines Rovers in the race for last season's S-League crown, Simunic will no doubt feel that his decision to return to the team which he was forced to leave in 2009 after FIFA's suspension on the Sultanate has been the right one.

The victory in the Singapore League Cup was the first time any team had won the competition twice, with the club's victory in 2009 marking the first time the trophy was lifted by a foreign side. Simunic beat off competition from Balestier Khalsa's Darren Stewart and Geylang United's V Kanan for last night's award.

Striker Shahrazen Said who ended the season as the DPMM FC's top scorer with 14 goals in all competition was also in the running for the Player of the Year Award but lost out to Tampines' Aleksandar Duric.

Home United's Frederic Mendy took home the Top Scorer award after scoring 20 S-League goals last term while Harimau Muda's (Malaysian national Under-23 team) Wan Zack Haikal won the Young Player of the Year Award and People's Choice Award.

The Brunei Times

11 November 2012

MS ABDB shoot through to semis

Saturday, November 10, 2012
THE Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) earned a place in the semi-finals of the DST Brunei FA Cup for the first time after beating Majra FC 3-1 yesterday.

Both teams pressured each other throughout the first half at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas, with Majra playing a fast-paced game and MS ABDB concentrating on quick one-two passes.

MS ABDB and Majra both had many opportunities to score, MS ABDB midfielder Mohd Isa Hj Bahar creating his team's best chance with a shot from outside the box in the 24th minute which Majra goalkeeper Abi Yazid Yussof did well to deal with.

Majra had their fair share of chances as well, striker Mohd Jurelmi Hj Zaini receiving the ball from a cross but heading just over the bar in the 35th minute.

MS ABDB finally broke the deadlock in the 55th minute when SLD Mohd Mazazizi scored after receiving a low cross from the right.

With a goal up, spirits were high within the MS ABDB team and midfielder SLD Mohd Baharin Hamidon scored the second goal just five minutes later with a thundering shot outside the penalty box — leaving Majra's helpless Abi Yazid watch the ball sail into the net.

Majra, however, did not lose hope, and they would get on the scoresheet in the 70th minute when Mohd Jurelmi received a pass from the right, sprinted into the penalty box, and blasted the ball past SLD Mohd Tarmizi's right.

Majra did not have much time to celebrate though, with MS ABDB scoring their third goal a minute later.

A right cornerkick awarded to the armymen found an unmarked SLD Affendy Hj Akub, who headed the ball into the far post.

Speaking to The Brunei Times MS ABDB's team manager Major (U) Suhaimi Jamali stated that there were no problems with the team's performance — though their first-half game needed improvement.

"From my observation, every first half that we have played in this tournament has shown that the players are just not psychologically confident," said Major Suhaimi.

"The team put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect but they came out shaky," he said, adding that the team needs a push in their self belief.

MS ABDB will face either IKLS FC or Tunas FC in the Dec 4 semi-final.

IKLS take on Tunas FC on Nov 25.

Last night's game saw the Royal Brunei Police Force Sports Council beat Muara Vella 3-1 in third round play.

Action continues tomorrow when Liang Lumut Recreation Club Football team (LLRC FT) take on Setia Perdana.

The third round tie will kick off at the Balapan Track and Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas at 8pm.

The Brunei Times

07 November 2012

DPMM Fc releases all foreigners !

In other S-League news, league runners-up Brunei DPMM FC have released its foreign quartet following the conclusion of a relatively successful season which saw the Bruneian outfit lift the StarHub League Cup as it did in 2009, its last season in the S-League before Fifa prevented Vjeran Simunic’s side from completing its season.

Basiru Osman, Ivan Jerkovic, Patrick Da Silva and Tales Dos Santos have been released by the club, and it is understood that the Bruneians are keen on bringing foreign players of better quality for the 2013 season.


06 November 2012

Ak Mohd Safri nets the winner for army

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
THE ROYAL Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) saw off Sporting FT at the third round of the Brunei FA Cup with a solitary goal from Ak Mohd Safri Pg Hj Othman at the Balapan Track and Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas last night.

"It was a very difficult game. Sporting FT put nine players behind and only one striker upfront. It was very hard to penetrate their defence in the first half. But in the second half we decided to bring in midfielders and attack from both sides and we finally managed to find the net," the MS ABDB assistant manager, Hj Mohd Sabri Hj Ahmad, said.

MS ABDB held the initiative from the beginning, repeatedly broke through from both sides, while Sporting FT failed to supply their lone striker Ak Muhd Marfadillah Al-Hadi with a single decent cross.

In the 59th minute, Abdul Azizi Ali Rahman header went over the bar from a left corner, while Ak Mohd Safri shot from close range was caught by the goalkeeper in the 67th minute.

Sensing the urgency the armymen started to put pressure on the Sporting FT defence in the final 20 minutes of the game, but a couple of long shots by midfielder Mohd Amir Ajmal and Mohd Baharin Mohd Hamidon failed to find the net.

Ak Safri once again found himself in the clear in the 71st minute but his sizzling shot went wide.

A decision by MS ABDB assistant manager Hj Mohd Sabri to bring in substitute Mohd Baharin in the second half paid dividends.

The winger set a brilliant pass for Ak Mohd Safri who only needed a simple tap in to send MS ABDB to the quarter-finals of the tournament. MS ABDB will face Majra FC in the quarter-final on Friday.

The other game at the Berakas Sports Complex saw Tunas FC defeat Rimba Star FC 3-2. Faiz Farhan, Mohammad Azril and Mohd Nazirul Hadi all got their names onto the scoresheet in the winning cause.

Tunas FC will either clash with Royal Brunei Police Force Sports Council (MS PDB) or Muara Vella FC in the quarter-finals.

The Brunei Times 

03 November 2012

DPMM FC finish 2nd best

Saturday, November 3, 2012
DPMM FC will have to settle for second in the Singapore League (S-League) after putting in a dull display to lose 2-0 to Balestier Khalsa FC in last night's title-decider the first time they were held goalless at home all season and snapping a five-game winning streak.

Failing to shift gears as the match wore on, DPMM FC found it tough to break down a resilient Balestier defence and eventually fell to their third home loss of the S-League campaign a result which combined with Tampines Rovers FC's 1-0 win against Malaysian national Under-23 team Harimau Muda in last night's other match, saw the Stags retain their crown.

DPMM FC's midfield had a hard time playing as a unit despite the sizable support at the soaked Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

They struggled to penetrate Balestier Khalsa's defence and found chances few and far in between in a game they had to win and hope for dropped points from Tampines.

The club can still look back at their first full S-League campaign their debut in 2009 was stopped with five games to go because of FIFA's suspension on Brunei as one filled with numerous positives though, becoming the only team to win the Singapore League Cup for the second time in August and blooding new talent the likes of striker Adi Said and defender Ampuan Mohd Nurul Azami Ampuan Hussin.

Add in the fact that the team were left out of competitive football for two years because of the suspension, finishing second was a huge achievement especially considering their target at the start was only a place in the top-5.

The 75th minute substitution of injured centre-back Ampuan Mohd Nurul Azami and right-back Hj Muhd Subhi Abdilah Hj Bakir changed the face of last night's game, and Balestier stunned the stadium when Zulkiffli Hassim headed in a 80th minute goal and Park Kang-jin produced an even bigger shocker by chipping goalkeeper Wardun Yussof seven minutes later both goals coming from fluid counter-attacks.

Balestier looked content to sit back with their five-man back-line and play on the break, a tactic which earned them their 12th clean sheet of the S-League campaign and proving just why they have the stingiest defence in the league after only letting in 20 goals all season.

Attributing the loss to bad luck, DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic said that Fahrudin Mustafic's 41st minute penalty for Tampines at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore demotivated the players once the news filtered down to the dressing room at half-time.

"When we went in at the break and heard that Tampines were ahead... The boys were down," admitted Simunic.

"I knew that it would be hard when Ampuan and Subhi were injured and I had to take them out.

"Like what I've said before, Balestier are a team with the best organisation.

"They waited for us to make a mistake, and we took risks to try and win the game but we lost," added the Croatian.

Balestier's Zdravko Dragicevic scuttled the first chance of the game with a weak attempt in the seventh minute, with Azwan Salleh's long-range attempt in the 16th minute DPMM FC's first shot of note.

Ivan Jerkovic had the best chance for the hosts after winning the ball in the middle of the park and forcing a save from Zakariah Nerani after a shot from outside the box on the half-hour mark.

Ruhaizad Ismail should have given the visitors the lead nine minutes later but blazed the shot wide despite only having Wardun to beat with both his and Dragicevic's chances coming from Park's crosses.

Perhaps sensing that DPMM FC were reeling from the news that Tampines were ahead, Balestier came out the hungrier side at the start of the second half, with their best chance coming in the 53rd minute when Ruhaizad hit the side netting.

The unmarked Patrick Roberto Daniel Da Silva had a golden opportunity to put DPMM FC in front but was unable to test Zakariah with a shot from outside the box after Balestier failed to clear their lines in the 70th minute.

Park forced Wardun into a double-save in the 76th minute, but Balestier wouldn't be denied four minutes later when the ever-reliable DPMM FC captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis was robbed off the ball by three players after spending too long with it in midfield.

Flowing forward with intent, substitute Andrew Tan sent in a delightful cross from the left to Zulkiffli, who headed it home past a diving Wardun.

Though Rosmin would later apologise for the mistake, the damage was already done.

With momentum on their side, Balestier scored another goal against the run of play when their defence booted a DPMM FC corner-kick up the field and onto the onrushing Park.

He raced through to goal without a defender in sight and cooly chipped the onrushing Wardun for one of the best goals scored at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium all year with left-back Sairol Hj Sahari receiving his second yellow card for protesting.

With it also being the last S-League goal fans would see this campaign, it was only fitting that the match would end in such dramatic fashion.

The Brunei Times

01 November 2012

Shahrazen: Winning the S-League is the true goal

Thursday, November 1, 2012
SHAHRAZEN Said can end the Singapore League (S-League) season second in the goal-scoring charts but the striker insists it won't mean a thing unless DPMM FC beat Tampines Rovers FC for the title in tomorrow's season-ender.

The country's only professional club is gearing up for its biggest match in history, facing Balestier Khalsa FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas tomorrow night in a must-win match if they are to lift the S-League trophy for the first time.

Defending champions and league leaders Tampines take on Malaysian national Under-23 side Harimau Muda at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore in the night's other game, and a slip up from the Stags combined with a DPMM FC win will see the Great Eastern Yeo's S-League trophy travel across the South China Sea.

Shahrazen is currently third with 13 goals, with Geylang United FC's Jozef Kaplan and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) FC's Mislav Karoglan both on 14 and Home United FC's Frederic Mendy leading the table with 20.

Mendy has the chance to add to his tally when Home take on the Young Lions (Singaporean national Under-23 team) tonight in the final game for both sides. Kaplan and Karoglan also face off tonight in the last match of the season for both Geylang and SAF, where goals from either player will make Shahrazen's task all the more harder.

DPMM FC's top-scorer though, stressed that he has other matters on his mind.

"I'm not really thinking about it," said Shahrazen last week when asked what he felt about his goal-tally.

"The most important thing is that we beat Balestier and Tampines drop points... For me, anything more than that is just good luck.

"I'm just doing my job as a striker ... If I have the chance to score, I take it.

"Finishing second in the table is just a bonus for me.

"I never expected to score 13 goals... If you had asked me at the start of the season, I didn't even think I would score 10.

"I scored nine goals the last time we were in the S-League (in 2009), and two of them were in the Singapore League Cup," added Shahrazen, who finished joint top-scorer with Perak's Keita Mandjou during the 2006/07 Malaysian Super League (MSL) season with 21 goals.

Though the 26-year-old only netted once during DPMM FC's run to the Singapore League Cup crown in August, he couldn't have picked a better time than the final against Geylang, scoring the 36th minute opener before Azwan Salleh's 76th minute free-kick won the game.

The striker was in the midst of a drought leading up to the August 11 final against Geylang, his last goal coming on May 5 when he bagged a brace in the 5-1 win against Hougang United FC.

He hasn't had any problems finding the back of the net since then though, going on to score five goals in the team's seven S-League games leading up to tomorrow's title-decider.

Though he might lack the speed which was so pivotal to his rich vein of form during the 2006/07 MSL campaign, the striker remains just as clinical in front of goal and his ability to carve out space continues to mark him out as DPMM FC's most potent threat.

The Brunei Times

Five-star Kilanas put on a show

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
KILANAS FC outplayed BESA FC 5-1 in last night's DST Brunei FA Cup third-round match at the Balapan Track and Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.

Kilanas commanded most of the possession in the first half with through balls and one-two passing, leaving BESA to defend at all costs.

They marked their first goal in the sixth minute when Mohamed Azmi Hj Zainin was fed a cross from the right, with the striker easily tapping the ball home.

Their second goal was the result of a 22nd minute mistake from a BESA defender, who accidentally passed the ball to Kilanas' Naasiruddeen Abdul Wahab in the penalty box, the midfielder scoring with a right-footed shot.

Syazwan Azizi Hj Mohd Taib made it 3-0 in the 29th minute when he ran onto a through ball which tore BESA's defence apart, and just two minutes later, Mohd Nor Hidayatullah Hj Zaini sprinted with the ball to the right and fired the ball pass a helpless BESA FC goalkeeper with a shot from just outside the penalty box.

The second-half saw more ball possession for BESA, but they were limited to long-range attempts because of Kilanas' strong four-man defence.

Mohd Khairul Hj Abd Halim made it 5-0 with a 73rd minute penalty to the left which crept in under BESA goalkeeper Md Hasif Hj Amdan.

Although the game was over for BESA FC, the team managed to get themselves a late goal two minutes from time when a cross from the right found Hj Mohd Aliakbar Damong Hj Omarali, who tapped the ball into goal.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Kilanas FC assistant coach Mohd Radzuan Hj Madali said that the team won because of their initial strategy of going full-steam ahead in the first-half.

"Our tactic worked as we just went all-out on offence in the first-half," he said.

The assistant coach added that even though BESA were pressing them in the second-half, they still controlled the game with good defence and counter-attacks.

Tonight's match will see Liang Lumut Recreation Club Football Team (LLRC FT) taking on Setia Perdana at the Balapan Track and Field at 8pm.

The Brunei Times 

DPMM FC set eyes on big prize

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
DPMM FC have their eyes set on the big prize.

They are busy preparing for their last match of the season against Balestier Khalsa in the Singapore League (S-League) on Friday at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

In their biggest home match in recent years, Brunei's only professional football team hope that Tampines Rovers, who have a one point advantage over them, lose to Harimau Muda (Malaysia Under-23 football team) in the other matchup.

Finishing as runners-up is an excellent result considering that the team were without competitive football for over two years.

The target set by DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic (pic) before the competition was a top-five finish but the team have really outdone themselves to be in this position to make it a double for the season.

"We will only concentrate on the game and won't think about any other factors. We are in a good position to make history," said Simunic in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday during a training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium.

"Even finishing as runners-up is fantastic itself but of course we are looking for the ultimate prize," he added.

Simunic was largely pleased with all the players that got the team to the very position.

"I'm very happy especially with the past five games and the local players have shown that they can all play," said Simunic. "I'm happy with the contributions of the imports too. The bench have really stepped up and all of them deserve to even be part of the starting 11," he added.

The DPMM FC head coach also sympathised for Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit as he will once again be missing another big matchup after picking up another yellow card in the 3-1 win over Hougang United on Wednesday.

The defender and former captain didn't play in the final of the Singapore League Cup back in 2009 due to suspension and missed the final this year because of an injury.

"I feel sorry for Salleh because this is the third time that he is missing out on a big game. He has been the best player for us in the last five games when we are missing (Tales Ricarte dos) Santos at the backline," said Simunic.

"It is too bad that we will be missing Salleh once again. Hopefully fans appreciate him because he has been crucial in getting us here," added the Croatian.

"It might be a problem for us too because he is a leader and a good player, someone I respect very much," continued Simunic. DPMM FC have a longer rest period as Tampines fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAF FC) in the final of the Singapore Cup at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday. When asked if there is any advantage for a more rest to game day, Simunic replied: "There is no advantage for us because we only have extra four days of rest. For professional teams, I feel that we should always be playing every three days to be in top condition." Meanwhile, Hougang United and Harimau Muda played out to a 0-0 draw at the Hougang Stadium in Singapore last night. The Brunei Times