12 February 2013

Friendlies for testing players, not results: Simunic

Jason Thomas


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

WINNING only one of nine pre-season friendlies might be a problem for most coaches.

Then again, DPMM FC's Vjeran Simunic (pic) isn't like most coaches.

DPMM FC returned from a Singapore League (S-League) warm-up in Vietnam last week with one win in five matches, a poor return by any account. They were also in Indonesia in December to compete at the Governor Aceh Trophy, where they only claimed two draws and two losses in the six-team invitational tournament, losing out on third to Malaysian giants Selangor.

Factor in the injury that their biggest signing to date, Croatian international Ivan Bosnjak, suffered in the first minute of their first match in Vietnam which left him watching the whole week from the sidelines and one would think that Simunic would be a worried man.

Star striker Shahrazen Said also returned from Vietnam with a knock which kept him out of yesterday's training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium, and Brazilian centre-back Tales Ricarte dos Santos is still in his native land recovering from a knee injury.

Despite everything, last year's S-League Coach of the Year remains unfazed.

"I am happy we were able to challenge some of the most respectable teams in the region," Simunic beamed yesterday of their pre-season friendlies.

"Our intention was to improve, not get results, so generally I'm satisfied with how we played in Vietnam.

"We ended every game with different players than when we started, and my whole aim in Vietnam was to test out all the players.

"We have 19 local players and I tested all of them, and I'm happy with how they all played especially our defenders.

"If I wanted results I would have put out our strongest first-11 and stuck with them for 90 minutes.

"Do you know that Wardun (first choice goalkeeper Wardun Yussof) only played one game in Vietnam?

"We learnt a lot in Vietnam. The players there were really physical... Wrestling, like rugby. So we took some lessons from that," added the Croatian, who used to coach Vietnamese side Ho Chi Minh City FC before returning to Brunei for his second stint with DPMM FC in 2011.

Last season's S-League runners-up kick off their season next Thursday when they travel to the Bishan Stadium in Singapore to take on Home United.

They will then host Hougang United in their first home game of the year on March 1 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas before facing Young Lions (Singaporean national Under-21 team) on March 7 and Japanese outfit Albirex Niigata (S) on March 11.

Geylang International's coach V Kanan last week said that DPMM FC and Tampines would be the teams to beat this season, but it is obvious Simunic isn't believing the pre-season hype.

He does, though, believe that more hard work is needed if DPMM FC are to continue being a talking point in Singapore football.

"I'm happy with our success last season, and how we were able to improve on our Top-5 goal," said Simunic, who took the title down to the wire before losing to Tampines on the last day of the season.

"We not only have good players, they also have good personalities and high-level training that is why others respect us and people speak about us.

"We have to defend our rating which is now very high.

"We're a young team and we don't have enough experience but I trust every player.

"Last season the four imports did a good job, now I am expecting the same if not better."

The Brunei Times ..

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