30 March 2013

Woodlands test for DPMM FC

Bandar Seri Begawan - DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic is leaving nothing to fate as his charges prepare to welcome Woodlands Wellington FC to the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium' tomorrow night.
Woodlands Wellington currently sits fifth in the standings, a staggering four places above DPMM FC in the 12-team table.
"It will be a big game because Woodlands have changed 99% of their team," remarked Simunic during a training session at the Mini Stadium in Jerudong yesterday evening.
"They are a very good team. They are targeting the top three this year and have signed some excellent players," added the Croatian.
Marquee signing, Cho Sung Hwan, joined the Rams in the off-season, and along with former Ajax man, Khalid Hamdaoui, who has scored four times in five outings, Jo-Yoon Jang and Soon-Ho Moon, has been identified as one of Woodlands' main threats.
"We will play to win the game, but we must respect Woodlands because they have made a very good name for themselves," said the 57-year-old coach.
"I will be happy if we can repeat our performances against Hougang and Albirex, but at the moment, we are still building our team. We have four.new players who still need to incorporate with the team," he added.
Tomorrow's clash will mark the first of three games at home in the space of a week, where DPMM FC will have to depend on their strength in squad depth to make it through a tightly packed schedule. DPMM FC will then play Geylang International on April 3 and Tanjong Pagar United on April 7.
Hougang have racked up eight points from their first five games, with Albirex Niigata and Home United both falling at the hands of the rams.
DPMM FC have been boosted by news that Croatian striker Ivan Bosnjak is fit to play in spite of the skull fracture he received against Hougang United earlier in the month. The 34-year-old's involvement will depend upon the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS)verdict as to whether wearing a skull cap, like that of Chelsea's Petr Cech, is deemed acceptable under the league's rules and regulations.
Tales dos Santos, who has not played a competitive match for eight months, is set to make the bench after DPMM FC received a letter from the Brazilian's doctor which confirmed that he would be able to play by March 31st.
DPMM FC's latest addition, Azwan Ali Rahman, is set to make the 18-man squad provided he passes the mandatory fitness test which will be conducted by FAS officials at the Mini Stadium in Jerudong this afternoon. The 21-year-old will be sporting the vacant No 2 jersey should he feature tomorrow. -- 

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tampines stay perfect

Saturday, March 30, 2013
DEFENDING champions Tampines Rovers continued their flawless start to the Singapore League after a 1-0 victory over 10-man Home United last night.

Tampines remain the only unbeaten side in the 12-team league, having picked up a maximum of 18 points from their first six games of the season, while Albirex Niigata (S) FC are second on 15 points.

Home's Firdaus Idros was sent to an early shower after he handled the ball inside the penalty box for his second yellow card in the 62nd minute at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore, and Singaporean national team player Fahrudin Mustafic converted the ensuing penalty to put Tampines in front.

Tampines moved to the top of the standings following a 2-1 victory over Harimau Muda B (Malaysian Under-21 team) at the Clementi Stadium last Sunday.

Previous leaders Albirex Niigata could have regained top spot but succumbed to their first defeat of the campaign after falling 2-1 to Woodlands Wellington FC at the Woodlands Stadium on Tuesday.

Woodlands have collected eight points from five games and sit fifth in the league.

Tanjong Pagar United FC and Balestier Khalsa FC are third and fourth respectively, both on 10 points.

Woodlands are set to face DPMM FC, Brunei's only professional football club, at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas at 8.15pm tomorrow.

DPMM FC have taken a three-week break from the S-League and have dropped from fifth to ninth during that period, though they have two games in hand.

Last season's runners-up, DPMM FC are on five points with one win, two draws and a loss from their four games thus far.

Harimau Muda B are 11th while Hougang United FC are 10th, all on five points but trailing DPMM FC on goal difference.

The Young Lions (Singapore Under-23 national team) are rooted at the basement of the table and are the only side with no wins after six matches.

Their first four games resulted in their opponents awarded 3-0 victories after they were found to have fielded ineligible players.

One of those games was against DPMM FC, a match on March 7 that the Bruneian side won 2-1 their only victory of the season thus far. The Young Lions have since lost 1-0 to Albirex (March 20) and Warriors FC (March 28). 

The Brunei Times 

28 March 2013

Bosjnak set for return

Thursday, March 28, 2013
DPMM FC striker Ivan Bosjnak is expected to make his competitive return to the country's only professional club against Woodlands Wellington FC in the Singapore League (S-League) at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on Sunday.

The striker has been out with head injury since early March, but was able to begin training in the past few weeks and has increased his workload since.

"He is now training with the squad. He is doing what the other players are doing except he is not encouraged to head the ball during the training. He is doing very well," said coach Vjeran Simunic in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.

The Croatian striker who featured in the 2006 World Cup underwent a surgery after fracturing the bones around his ear and eye in DPMM FC's 3-3 draw against Hougang United FC on March 1.

Bosnjak was instrumental in DPMM FC's attack in his last game against Hougang United and really came into his own in the second half, converting a penalty in the stalemate.

Simunic though, is not keen on rushing the 33-year-old back into action too soon, fearing he could suffer another setback.
"In medicinal aspect he is recovering very well. But is up to (Bosjnak), if he thinks he is ready to play then he will play," said Simunic.

"We will see in these few days if he is going to play... then we will need to look for a special mask for him because if he gets hit it might get worse."

Certainly, the return of Bosjnak would add considerable creativity to the DPMM FC's attack, boosting the squad's striking options upfront.

"It is always good to have him (Bosjnak) back. Now we have a lot of options. We have the Said brothers (Shahrazen Said and Adi Said) and Joao (Joao Victor Rocha De Carvalho Moreira). We can even play all of them upfront," said Simunic.

"We also have signed (Azwan Ali Rahman). He is a very good player. I hope that he can pass the test. Then he can play for us," added the coach.

Azwan who became a hero for Indera Sporting Club (SC) after scoring the only goal in their dramatic 1-0 victory over the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) in the final day of the inaugural edition of the DST Super League on March 10 to help his team finish as champions of the tournament.

The 21-year-old midfielder scored a staggering 17 goals in eight appearances with Indera in the DST Super League and his astonishing goal tally earned him the award for top-scorer in the tournament.

Azwan who was also a part of the national squad at the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup 2012 qualifiers in Myanmar in October was reportedly signed by DPMM FC from Indera SC last week. 

The Brunei Times

24 March 2013

PFF respects Brunei's decision

Sunday, March 24, 2013
THE Philippines Football Federation (PFF) have said it "respects" Brunei's decision to pull out of the ongoing Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers in Manila.

Brunei surprised the Asian football community when it withdrew from the four-team; qualifiers in the Philippine capital on Tuesday, citing "unavoidable circumstances" for the decision.

Though the choice has largely been met with rebuke by Filipino media, and the AFC has stated it is looking at possible suspensions and fines, PFF's general secretary insists there are no hard feelings about the 11th hour decision.

"It is unfortunate that our football friends from Brunei are no longer participating in the tournament," said Atty Edwin Gastanes in an e-mail to The Brunei Times on Friday.

"We will surely miss Brunei and we hope to be able to play with them someday.

"It would've been exciting to have all the teams in Group E complete in all the matches.

"PFF has left no stones unturned to make their stay in the Philippines pleasant and memorable.

"The Philippines Azkals and Filipino fans were really looking forward to playing against them on the first match day. The PFF in the end respects the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam's decision to withdraw from the competition," he added.

Brunei only informed the Philippines of their withdrawal a day before they were set to face the hosts in Friday's tournament-opener, a move which came as something of a shock to Gastanes.

"They even asked for early arrival and the Philippines as hosts obliged and made arrangements," Gastanes was quoted as saying on GMA News Online.

Brunei have found the Philippines to be equal punching partners in the past, with the two countries playing out a 1-1 draw during the 2008 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Cambodia and hosts Philippines taking a 1-0 win at the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers .

Two-time Challenge Cup finalists Turkmenistan proved they are the team to beat in this week's Group E qualifiers at the Rizal Memorial Stadium after blasting past Cambodia 7-0 in Friday's opener.

The hosts take on Cambodia today, with the last game pitting Turkmenistan against the Philippines in a winner-takes-all scenario on Tuesday.

Brunei were to play the Philippines on Friday, Turkmenistan today and Cambodia on Tuesday with AFC awarding 3-0 wins to all of Brunei's opponents.

The 20-team qualifiers are divided into four groups of five, with the group winners and two best runners-up advancing to next year's tournament proper in the Maldives.

The Brunei Times

23 March 2013

'Brunei will be punished'

Saturday, March 23, 2013
BRUNEI will be punished for their last-minute withdrawal from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers in Manila.

Citing "unavoidable circumstances," the Sultanate pulled out of the March 22-26 tournament on Tuesday, informed AFC on Wednesday and the Philippines Football Federations (PFF) on Thursday.

In an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday, AFC said that the body is investigating the matter.

"We will definitely take action and we are currently looking into it," said an AFC spokesperson in a telephone interview yesterday.

"We received the official letter regarding the withdrawal on Wednesday, and in the letter, it was stated that Brunei regrets it is unable to participate in the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers due to unavoidable circumstances.

"We have received calls from countries, especially from the Philippines following the event.

"There will be changes in the overall qualification process which is very complicated," added the spokesperson who is based at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The Sultanate were to play hosts Philippines yesterday, Turkmenistan tomorrow and Cambodia on Tuesday.

Brunei's withdrawal has created complications in the overall qualification process, particularly in the computations for the slots allotted for the two best runners-up in all the five group qualifiers.

However, AFC have decided to award 3-0 wins to all of Brunei's opponents which will no doubt affect the country's FIFA rankings.

Turkmenistan raised the curtains with a 7-0 whipping of Cambodia yesterday, with the next match pitting Cambodia against the Philippines tomorrow. The last game will see Turkmenistan face the Philippines on Tuesday.

The 20-team qualifiers are divided into four groups of five, with the group winners and two best runners-up advancing to next year's tournament proper in the Maldives.

The AFC Challenge Cup Maldives 2014 regulations also make for some more bad news for Brunei, who will be forced to sit the next edition out as well as pay fines.

The AFC Challenge Cup Maldives 2014 regulations' Section 3:20 (c) states that "a participating member association (that) withdraws after entering or does not report for a match at any stage of the competition will be disqualified from taking part in the next edition of the competition."

AFC Executive Committee may extend the suspension depending on the gravity of the situation and/or damages.

The regulation book goes on to explain that AFC only make exceptions in cases of force majeure or superior force (events such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes) recognised by the AFC Competitions Committee.

Section 3:20 (c) also states that the participating member association is required to pay compensation for any and all damages or losses suffered by the other participating member associations, the AFC and AFC's commercial and TV partner(s) in case of withdrawal.

They will be referred to the AFC Disciplinary Committee for additional sanctions and fines depending on the gravity of the situation, then to AFC Executive Committee for final decision.

The amount of compensation will be determined by the AFC Executive Committee.

They will also be required to return to the AFC any financial stipends that had been paid to them by AFC throughout the competition or forfeit the right to the same.

The Brunei Times

22 March 2013

PFF confirms Brunei exit

Friday, March 22, 2013
THE Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has confirmed that Brunei have pulled out of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers yesterday.

It was reported by GMA News Online that the PFF was only notified by the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) through the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) match commissioners at noon yesterday.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports had confirmed with The Brunei Times on Tuesday that the Sultanate will not be at the four-team tournament citing 'unavoidable circumstances'.

The withdrawal of the Wasps was a disappointment and a surprise to everyone.

"They even asked for early arrival and the Philippines as hosts obliged and made arrangements," Atty Edwin Gatanes, PFF General Secretary, was quoted as saying.

"It's not what we wanted to happen. They have not explained to us why they took that decision," added Ebong Joson, spokesman for the PFF.

Michael Weiss, the national coach of the Philippines football team, said he could not understand the situation which would force Brunei a 'serious football nation' to pull out just one day before kickoff.

"(Their withdrawal) affects more than just our group, we can only shake our heads," said Weiss.

The other two teams Cambodia and Turkmenistan are unfazed by the withdrawal of Brunei.

They remain focused on their aim which is to qualify for the tournament proper in Maldives next year.

Cambodia head coach Prak Sovannara felt that Brunei's withdrawal does not affect their preparation while Turkmenistan's coach Yazguly Hojageldyyew said that they are just focused on their target to qualify.

Brunei were suppose to open their campaign today against the hosts in Group E action at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Azkals now have two extra days to prepare for their first game against Cambodia on Sunday followed by Turkmenistan two days later.

"That is two extra days for our Europe-based players to adjust to the heat," added Weiss.

Turkmenistan are favourites to top the group having been in the final of the AFC Challenge Cup twice before.

They have had months of training in preparations for the qualifiers as opposed to the Philippines, who have only had five to six days of training together along with a couple of mini camps in the past month.

A total of 19 teams excluding Brunei are separated into five groups vying for eight slots in Maldives.

The group winners and top two second-place finishers together with the hosts will fight for top honours.

The Brunei Times

21 March 2013

Players disappointed with Brunei’s withdrawal from Challenge Cup

The Sultanate's Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports confirmed that the country will not be participating in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in Philippines.

By Khalis Rifhan

Brunei national team players were given a shock a day before they were due to travel to the Philippines for their 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, as they were informed that the country is pulling out from the competition.
This news was confirmed by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to the local media, Brunei Times, on Wednesday.
"Due to unavoidable circumstances, Brunei Darussalam is unable to participate in the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers scheduled to be held in the Philippines from March 22-26," said the ministry's permanent secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar.
Brunei were scheduled to face off with the Azkals on March 22 in Group E, alongside Cambodia and Turkmenistan.
This news will surely not bode well with Vejran Simunic who had been registered as Brunei head coach for the tournament and the players who were looking to get a much needed international exposure following their AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers last October.
Several of the Brunei national teams players, feeling disappointed with this development, spoke to Goal.com Singapore on condition of anonymity.
“I have no idea about this; I feel Brunei football never learnt from the past mistakes," said one player.
"I have experienced this situation three times. How can we be a good example to the younger generation if there is still internal conflict?
“Look at the neighbours, they have no excuse to not participate in any tournament, even the not so well to do countries are able to join. I feel upset and ashamed that such things have happened again.”
Another player added: “Are we moving forward and giving us a chance to improve? History has repeated itself and I am not sure how to face my fellow Bruneians.”
Although Simunic’s appointment was alleged to have taken place more than a month ago, there was no news of it on the local media as the National Football Association of Brunei (NFABD) was gearing up for its fifth extraordinary congress earlier in the month.
His Royal Highness Prince Sufri Bolkiah was elected as the new president of the NFABD, replacing Dato Paduka Abdul Rahman Mohiddin at the helm till 2015.
But the election of the Prince to the highest post in NFABD has given little to cheer about for the fans with the latest development.
The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (BAFA) was suspended after intereference from the government which saw the dissolvement of the federation and subsequent replacement by a new governing body.
The Fifa Executive Committee had planned to expel the BAFA had it not been reinstated by the Bruneian authorities. All Bruneian teams were banned from participating in any competition during this period and only saw their reinstatement on May 2011.


20 March 2013

No Brunei at Manila's AFC Challenge Cup

Jason Thomas


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

BRUNEI will play no part in this week's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers in Manila.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports yesterday confirmed with The Brunei Times that the Sultanate will not be at the four-team tournament at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, news which is sure to come as a disappointment to local football fans.

"Due to unavoidable circumstances, Brunei Darussalam is unable to participate in the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers scheduled to be held in the Philippines from March 22-26," said the ministry's permanent secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar.

Brunei were set to face hosts Philippines in their first match on Friday, taking on Turkmenistan on Sunday before ending with Cambodia next Tuesday.

Twenty teams were slated to compete the in four-team, five-group qualifiers which are to be hosted in venues across the region.

The group winners and two best second-placed finishers advance to the AFC Challenge Cup to be held in Maldives next year.

The AFC Challenge Cup is the counterpart of the Asian Cup and is a biennial event for emerging footballing countries in Asia.

The winners of the Challenge Cup North Korea in the last two instances automatically qualify for the next Asian Cup in 2015 in Australia.

The Brunei Times

19 March 2013

Indera SC: Azwan not joining DPMM FC

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
INDERA Sports Club (SC) president Pg Anak Hj Mohd Yassin Pg Anak Safiuddin has dismissed reports claiming that Azwan Ali Rahman is joining the country's only professional football club, DPMM FC.

DPMM FC reported on their website on Sunday that they have acquired the services of the midfielder, who led the DST Super League in scoring last season, from the newly-crowned champions.

However, Indera's president yesterday took the step of responding directly to the claim by branding the report as false.

Calls to Azwan and DPMM FC team manager Ali Hj Momin were not answered as of press time, but Pg Anak Hj Mohd Yassin was more than willing to talk to The Brunei Times

"It is not true. Azwan is not joining DPMM FC," said the president in an interview yesterday.

"As the president of the club I can tell you that Azwan is still an Indera player.

"He is our best player and he is very talented. Why would we want to let him go?

"He was the top scorer in the league and he is very important to us.

"Whatever (the) circumstances are, we will not let Azwan go.

"I have spoken to our manager (Rosdin Hj Abdul Aziz) about it and ... DPMM FC have not approached us to sign our player.

"I have talked to the kid (Azwan) recently, and he never told me anything about leaving the club.

"Azwan and another Indera player, Hamizan Abdul Aziz, are currently training with DPMM FC but that is only because they are preparing for this week's qualifying stage of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in the Philippines," he added.

Azwan scored a staggering 17 goals in eight appearances with Indera in the first edition of the DST Super League, and his astonishing goal tally earned him the award for top-scorer during the DST Super League prize presentation ceremony at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas on Thursday.

The midfielder became a hero after scoring Indera's only goal in their dramatic 1-0 victory over the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) in the final day of the season on March 10 to help the club to finish as champions above MS ABDB on goal difference.

Azwan was a part of the national squad at the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup 2012 qualifiers in Myanmar in October, and he also featured in the national Under-21 team that won the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) in March the same year where he stood out against the best regional teams with his strong play in the middle of the park.

His pace, creativity and ability to play between the lines of midfield would definitely add more creativity to the club, so adding Azwan in the team would automatically be an improvement for DPMM FC.

If the move goes through, Azwan will join former HBT teammates Adi Said (striker), Md Hendra Azam Md Idris (midfielder), Md Najib Hj Tarif (midfielder) and Md Fakhrul Zulhazmi Yussof (goalkeeper) who officially signed for DPMM FC in April.

Defender Reduan Hj Petara was also roped in from the HBT team but has since made a return to Indera.
The Brunei Times

Brunei set for AFC qualifiers

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
BRUNEI will take on hosts Philippines in their first match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers on Friday.

The Sultanate meet Turkmenistan on Sunday before closing the curtains against Cambodia next Tuesday.

Brunei's last two games against the Philippines ended in a draw and a loss, but the hosts have already termed themselves the favourites for the tie at the Rizal Memorial Stadium with one online portal brazenly predicting a 5-0 win for the Azkals.

Though the Philippines advanced to the 2012 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup semi-finals, where they were beaten 1-0 in a two-legged tie against eventual champions Singapore, their past record against Brunei suggests there is harldy anything separating the two sides in 2008 at least.

The two countries played out a 1-1 draw during the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Cambodia, with hosts Philippines taking a 1-0 win when they met in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers the same year.

Turkmenistan will enter the Philippine capital as favourites, the Central Asian nation finishing as runners-up during the previous Challenge Cup last March.

While Turkmenistan might be a relatively unknown opponent, the same can't be said of Cambodia who Brunei met at last year's AFF Suzuki qualifiers in Myanmar.

The country's last international tournament, Brunei beat the Cambodians 3-2 in Yangon, with the previous meeting between the two sides ending in a 2-1 win for Cambodia when they hosted the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers.

It is understood the national team are set to leave tomorrow, with the majority of the squad to be made up of DPMM FC players with coach Vjeran Simunic serving as bench boss once again.

Simunic was at the helm of the national team when they travelled to Cambodia for the 2008 edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers, where the country failed to make the grade with one win, one draw and two losses.

Only the top-two teams from the five-team series in the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers progress to the tournament-proper, unlike in the AFC Challenge Cup.

The AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers have 20 teams divided into five teams battling it out, with the winners and two best second-placed finishers advancing to the competition which will be held in Maldives next year.

The AFC Challenge Cup is the counterpart of the Asian Cup and is a biennial event meant for emerging footballing countries in Asia.

The winners of the Challenge Cup will automatically qualify for the next Asian Cup in 2015 in Australia. North Korea won the last two AFC Challenge Cup titles and are now playing in the Asian Cup qualifiers.The Brunei Times

11 March 2013

DPMM FC shuffle their pack

Jason Thomas


Monday, March 11, 2013

MIDFIELDER Hj Muhd Subhi Abdilah Hj Bakir will miss DPMM FC's match against Singapore League leaders Albirex Niigata (S) FC tonight due to a hamstring strain.

DPMM FC, who finished runners-up last season, face arguably their toughest test all year in Albirex, who came in third last campaign.

Hj Muhd Subhi, who picked up the injury during last Thursday's 2-1 win against Young Lions (Singaporean national Under-23 team), will sit out tonight's game with evergreen defender Pg Sallehuddin Pg Damit who was shown his second yellow card during the 39th minute of the match which helped DPMM FC move from seventh to fourth with their first win of the season.

Defender Abdul Aziz Tamit replaced Hj Muhd Subhi in the 77th minute of that game against Singapore's future crop of stars, but DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic is looking at a more attack-minded option against their Japanese opponents.

Simunic will give midfielder Md Hendra Azam Md Idris, a key component in the national Under-21 team's victorious run at last year's Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy, his first start of the season with defender Shahrulrizal Abd Rahman poised for his season debut.

Striker Adi Said, who has played in all three of DPMM FC's games this season two from the bench is also likely to play some part in tonight's proceedings at the Jurong East Stadium in Singapore.

Though the loss of Hj Muhd Subhi and Pg Sallehuddin might seem like a blow to DPMM FC, Simunic believes his strong stable of local talent allows DPMM FC's fringe players to pick up the slack.

"Salleh is suspended and Subhi injured, so I will give Shahrul a chance to play. Hendra will play in Subhi's place," Simunic told The Brunei Times yesterday.

"We have many good players on the bench (and) every game now, we're finishing with 80 per cent local players on the pitch... And that's something I'm very proud of.

"Just look at our win against the Young Lions... Singapore have the best national team in the region at the moment they won the Suzuki Cup and we beat the Young Lions.

"Brunei have very, very good footballers," he insisted.

Japanese footballers, though, are probably a few levels better than "very, very good."

Albirex, who are the only team to have picked up maximum points from this season's three games, were one of the favourites for last year's title and Singaporean media have already given them the same tag this year.

The Japanese have proven to be a tough nut to crack, letting in only one goal in their three matches only defending champions Tampines Rovers FC have a better record, having yet to pick the ball out of their net all season.

But Simunic, as usual, intends to crash the party.

"Albirex would like to be champions... But we want to spoil their plans," cautioned the confident Croatian.

Results have been split the last two times the teams met though DPMM FC beat Albirex 2-1 last March but the Japanese beat them 2-0 in July so tonight's game will be tough to call.

Last night's game saw Geylang International FC's Jozef Kaplan hit a hat-trick in his side's 4-1 win over Harimau Muda B (Malaysian Under-21 team) providing the Eagles with their first goals of this season.

The Slovakian whose team are coming off the back of a 1-0 defeat to Balestier Khalsa FC and a 5-0 thumping by Tampines put his side in front after a 42nd minute penalty.

He doubled the Eagles' lead four minutes after the restart at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor, Malaysia, with Nurhazwan Norasikin making it 3-0 on the hour mark.

Kaplan grabbed his hat-trick in the 84th minute and Faizat Ghazli would pull one back for the hosts in the 90th minute after Geylang's Taufiq Ghani was shown his marching orders.

The result moves Geylang off the foot of the 12-team table to ninth.   The Brunei Times ..

Indera SC capture title

Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh


Monday, March 11, 2013

INDERA Sports Club have left it to the final day of the DST Super League to secure their first major title in 30 years by defeating fierce rival Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) 1-0 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.

"I am very happy. I don't know how to describe it but this is the first trophy for Indera in 30 years," said Indera SC coach Hj Omar Hj Md Jamil in an interview with The Brunei Times . "It was a balanced game. Both teams were very cautious and both teams were looking for the opportunity to counter attack. We put five midfielders to match them (MS ABDB) tonight. They have a very good stamina in the game."It was sweet revenge for Indera, stealing the title on the last day of the season after losing to the armymen in the final of the DST FA Cup in December.

The situation for Indera at the start of the day was simple; win and they clinch the title, lose or draw, MS ABDB will go home with the title.

Midfielder Azwan Ali Rahman scored in the 82nd minutes to hand Indera the three points they needed to win the title on goal difference

The ball was in the midfield for much of the first half, during which neither side were able to make their mark on the match.

MS ABDB were the first to create the real goal scoring chance in the game when Mohd Mazazizi Mazlan made a shot just outside the penalty box, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Indera's goalkeeper Ak Omar Nur Aqamaddin Pg Hj Sallehuddin. The army men also had their goal disallowed in the 43rd minutes for an offside.

Being the better side in the first-half MS ABDB continued to pass the ball fluidly and create space with their through passes.

But Indera were slowly getting into the rhythm, captain Muhammad Khayrun Salleh was invaluable for the team as he helped win the ball in midfield playing in an unusually deep position in the middle of the park.

Then came the moment that would define an incredible final night for Indera. Azwan made a wonderful run down the left flank to latch onto a through pass from Hamizan Sulaiman. He then dribbled past two defenders before slotting the ball at the near post.

Azwan, the league top scorer with 17 goals, acknowledge his teammates' contribution in the title victory.

"I am very proud of my teammates. They were great throughout the season. It was a team effort. MS ABDB is a very strong team. They have good stamina. We got the job done in the first-half by not conceding. We went out very confident in the second-half. I am very happy," said Azwan.

The Brunei Times ..

10 March 2013

NFABD gets new president

Sunday, March 10, 2013
HIS Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah has been elected the new president of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD).

Brunei's governing body for football held the 5th Extraordinary Congress to reelect its Executive Committee yesterday at the NFABD House in Berakas.

It was held because other members wished to see changes for football development in the country.

HRH replaces his predecessor Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Mohiddin at the helm and will complete the remainder of the 2011-2015 term.

Pehin Datu Indera Sugara Brigadier General (R) Dato Paduka Hj Mohammad Yusof Abu Bakar was elected as his deputy.

Four district football association representatives, one referee representative and five members were also elected yesterday.

Hj Abdul Razak Hj Ibrahim was named from the Brunei-Muara District Football Association, Hj Meramit Hj Damit from Temburong District Amateur Football Association while the duo of Takong Ahmad and Morni Hj Zakaria were reelected for the Tutong District Amateur Football Association and Belait District Amateur Football Association respectively.

Abdul Halim Hj Metussin was chosen to represent the Brunei Darussalam Football Referees Association.

The five members were Hj Mohd Noor Hj Hamid (Brunei-Muara District Football Association), Ah Chua Bangau (Temburong District Amateur Football Association), Muhammad Radzuan Hj Madali (Kilanas FC), Bujang Hj Japar (Tutong District Amateur Football Association) and Jamhari Lani (Belait District Amateur Football Association).

Present to witness the event were Francisco Kalbuadi Lay, the President of the Football Federation of Timor Leste, James Johnson, Director of AFC (Asian Football Confederation) MA/International Relation and Development, and FIFA Development Officer Jeysing Muthiah from KL.

They are representatives sent by the respective organisations to observe the congress as it is a requirement.

HRH was all smiles and knows the task at hand now that he is to lead the sport in the Sultanate.

"I feel very honoured and happy to be appointed the president of NFABD. I want to thank those (football club representatives) who nominated for me for presidency to lead football in the country," said HRH in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.

"I would like to thank the former executive committee members for their efforts over the past two years. The FIFA and AFC representatives are happy with the professionalism of NFABD on running the elections in the morning as well.

"For the short term, we are looking at strengthening the administration with the appointment of new executive committee members. They should know their responsibilities and duties.

"We are also looking at working together with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to help develop the sport further," added HRH, who was formerly the honorary president of NFABD.

"We are looking at infrastructure for our mid-term goal. FIFA has provided a certain budget from the Goal Project and we are looking at getting new football fields according to FIFA standards. We are also looking at building indoor courts for futsal as well as promote beach football."

"And for the long term plan, we hope to run a programme to create quality football players.

"We are also looking at ways on gathering revenue and income for the association," continued HRH.

The AFC elections will be held in May and asked if there were any plans on chasing for a position, HRH replied: "Brunei is entitled to vote but we will see when the time comes."

Members of the public can propose ideas or send in complaints formally to NFABD with full name, address and contact details.

More information can be obtained by contacting Pehin Dato Paduka Hj Mohammad Yusof at 8711972, the secretary-general Hj Mohd Noor Hj Hamid at 8748195 or assistant secretary-general Pg Zulkarnain Pg Hj Md Noor at 8622083.

Inquiries can also be made by calling the NFABD house at 2380047.
The Brunei Times

QAF FC end season on fourth with Najip FC win

Sunday, March 10, 2013
QAF FC closed their DST Super League campaign with a 9-2 thrashing of Najip FC at the Balapan Track and Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas last night.

QAF end the season at fourth, replacing the Royal Brunei Police Forces Sports Council (MS PDB) with 16 points.

Najip, meanwhile, end their season without point to their name.

Rooted to the bottom of the table, Najip have conceded 76 goals and managed only 11 goals in nine matches.

"It was a very frustrating season for us," admitted Najip manager Mohd Najip Hj Moktal in an interview with The Brunei Times after the game.

"We didn't even get a draw in the game... But that is football.

"But I'm still very proud of my players for completing all the games this season. We faced a lot of problem this season especially with injuries," he added.

It took only four minutes for QAF FC to score their first goal, captain Riwandi Wahit netting from inside the penalty box after a great through ball from midfield.

Muhammad Hafiz Mahari doubled their lead four minutes later and Micky Anak Gandi made a brilliantly effort from the left before lashing his shot to defeat Najip's goalkeeper Mohd Faez Hj Hashim.

Muhammad Hafiz scored his second in the 29th minute and completed his hat-trick in the 34th minute, two minutes after Riwandi scored his second of the night.

Najip fought back in the second-half when Muhd Asril Kubu pounced on a poor clearance before smashing the ball home past QAF's goalkeeper Junaidi Akim.

Norfaez Awang Sayang made it 7-2 just four minutes later scoring from a goal mouth scramble.

However, QAF would add another two goals when Mohd Hardiani Metussin and Hardi Bujang scored in the 89th and 90th minutes respectively.

"It was a poor second-half for us," said QAF's manager Rahim Hj Daud.

"We need to improve for next season but QAF will always know where they stand in the league."

Asked whether he will keep all the players for next season, he replied: "Yes and no"

"We will see how it goes. However since this is our last game, I would like to thank all the players," he added.

Indera Sports Club take on the Royal Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) in tonight's last game of the season, a title-decider at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

Three points behind MS ABDB but with a better goal difference, only all three points will hand Indera the title tonight.

The match starts at 8:15pm.

The Brunei Times

08 March 2013

DPMM FC notch first win

Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh

Friday, March 8, 2013

TEN-man DPMM FC held on for a 2-1 victory over Young Lions last night to move to fourth in the Singapore League (S-League) table with 5 points, two behind leaders Tanjong Pagar United.

Brunei's only professional sports club found themselves holding on for dear life throughout a majority of the game after defender Pg Salehuddin Pg Damit was shown red in the 39th minute for a second yellow card at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore

"I am especially happy with how my team performed without one player tonight. It was a new experience for my players, playing a young team like Young Lions who can run very much. They have very good fitness. I think every national team from this region is a good team," said DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic after the game.

Captain Rosmin Hj Kamis fired DPMM FC into the lead in the 16th minute with a superb strike which flew past Young Lions goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah from the edge of the box following a poor clearance.

Striker Shahrazen Said added the second just nine minutes later when he rose above everyone to head home a Sairol Sahari corner kick from the right.

DPMM FC goalkeeper Wardun Yussof was also instrumental in the win, producing a number of excellent saves in second-half.

He managed to deflect Shamil Sharif's goalbound shot early in the first-half and Ignatius Ang could have scored for the home side just a few minutes later but failed to direct his close-range effort into the goal.

Young Lions finally found the net in the 55th minute when striker Sherif El Masri fired a shot just outside the penalty box to defeat Wardun.

Joao Vitor Rocha De Carvalho Moreira should have made it 3-1 for DPMM FC after Azwan Salleh set him up inside the penalty box ten minutes from time.

The Portuguese, however, uncharacteristically headed the ball straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.

Sherif almost punished DPMM FC for the missed opportunity three minutes later, but sent his drive past the far post.

Simunic made several changes to his starting lineup, leaving out midfielder Azwan Salleh for Helmi Zambin.

Adi Said replaced Ivan Bosjnak out with skull fractures to join his brother Shahrazen alongside Moreira upfront.

Bosjnak fractured his bones around his ear and eye during Friday night's 3-3 draw against Hougang United FC.

The team lined up captain Rosmin Hj Kamis and Guadeloupean combative midfielder Stephan Auvrey in the midfield.

Croatian defender Dino Drpic marshalled the back-line sided by veteran Pg Sallehudin, Hj Muhd Subhi Abdilah Hj Bakir and Sairol.

"The players were very confident of winning the game. We controlled the game in every department tonight. But the sending off in the first-half caused a little bit of problem for us," said team manager Ali Hj Momin in a phone-interview with The Brunei Times last night.

"We were playing with three strikers in the game. But we had to sacrifice Adi and brought in midfielder Azwan at the start of the second-half. We knew that we could have won with a bigger margin by playing three strikers upfront, but we did not want to gamble," he said.

DPMM FC will take on Albirex Niigata FC at Jurong East Stadium in Singapore on Monday.

The Brunei Times ..

07 March 2013

Indera keep title hopes alive

Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A FITTING 'edge of the seat' finish is in store for the inaugural season of the DST Super League.

The league will only be able to crown its first champion on the very last day of the season as Indera Sports Club moved within three points of leaders Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) following their 3-1 victory over Royal Brunei Police Forces Sports Council (MS PDB) last night.

The top two clubs in the competition will clash on Sunday at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium and a win for Indera will put them level on points against MS ABDB. Their superior goal difference will however see them go home with the DST Super League title.

"We will fight for the entire 90 minutes. We will fight for a win. Both (Indera and MS ABDB) are the best attacking teams in the country. I am expecting a tough game and I think MS ABDB will go out to win the game too," said Indera SC manager Rosdin Hj Abdul Aziz in an interview with The Brunei Times after the match.

Indera went into the game last night knowing that anything less than three points at the Balapan Track & Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas will dash their hopes of winning the title this year.

They started the game brightly early in the first-half with their typical flowing and assured short passes.

This made for several scoring opportunities but they struggled to find their way past the MS PDB back four.

They would find the back of the net in the 18th minute via current top scorer of the league with 16 goals Azwan Ali Rahman.

Azwan unleashed a thunderous strike just from outside the penalty area to beat MS PDB goalkeeper Mohd Khairol Amin Hj Zainuddin.

The prolific scorer could have made it 2-0 just before the half time whistle but his volley off of a Mohd Nazirul Nazreen Abdullah cross went inches wide.

The policemen came out a more determined team after the restart.

They dominated the midfield area and captain Rosmini Hj Abdul Kahar went close in the 50th minute but his header was parried by Indera goalkeeper Ak Mohd Nur Aqamaddin Pg Hj Salehuddin.

They continued to pile on the pressure on the offensive and created multiple chances but failed to finish, allowing Indera to slowly regain the flow of their game.

Indera found the back of the net in just their first offensive attempt in the second half.

Centre-back Reduan Hj Petara rising above the MS PDB defenders to head home Mohammad Azwan's cross from the right in the 60th minute to double his team's lead.

Mohd Hamizan Abdul Aziz made it 3-0 two minutes later with a brilliant solo effort.

He dribbled past five MS PDB players from the midfield area before rounding the goalkeeper to score his 13th goal of the season.

MS PDB managed to pull one back when Captain Rosmini calmly tapped in Mohd Zulkhairie Hj Md Salleh's cross from the right in the 86th minutes.

"All the players played very well tonight. The policemen played very well too. But we needed to win the game so we were very cautious in the second-half," said Indera's assistant coach Ali Hj Mustapa.

"I told my players to keep possession of the ball, delay the game and try to score when there are chances," he said.

The policemen , having played their final game of the season, is currently fourth in the table.

They will drop to fifth if QAF FC beat Najip FC on Saturday.

"I am very satisfied with my players. Even though we did not achieve the target of being in the top three, overall I am happy with their performance this season," said MS PDB head coach Sahrin Hj Mohd Jaya.

The Brunei Times

03 March 2013

Ivan out with skull fractures

Sunday, March 3, 2013
DPMM FC'S Ivan Bosnjak will have to undergo surgery after fracturing the bones around his ear and eye during Friday night's 3-3 draw against Hougang United FC.

Though the 2006 World Cup-playing Croatian striker received more than his fair share of abuse from Hougang's back-line, he played on through the pain and emerged with a bandaged head in the second half of the Singapore League match with coach Vjeran Simunic correctly predicting that his compatriot would have to go for an operation after the match.
Bosnjak was instrumental in DPMM FC's attack and really came into his own in the second half, and though the team would squander a two-goal lead and miss two penalties one of which he won - the 34-year-old insists he has no memory of their home season opener.

"I still don't remember even one minute of the game," he said yesterday during a telephone interview with The Brunei Times from the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital.

"I was told we missed two penalties, and I missed one, but I don't remember anything.

"We're still not sure where should I go for surgery. I think Singapore, but we'll decide in the next few days," added Bosnjak, who has 14 caps and one international goal to his name.

Bosnjak was rushed to RIPAS after the game and said he might be released today.

Despite being ruled out for action for what looks to be the best part of a month, Bosnjak is already raring to get back to action.

Simunic said Bosnjak one of the club's four new imports this season is sure to miss at least a month of football.

Two months would be more reasonable, but Bosnjak wants to get back to the pitch to make amends for the penalty miss as soon as possible.

"I will clear all that up in the next game," he promised.

"I won't play the next two games and I hope on March 31 I will be ready to play in front of the public (against Woodlands Wellington).

"I will have to wear a mask, but I want to play," Bosnjak vowed.

Probably no one is more worried about Bosnjak's injury than Simunic, who blames himself for allowing him to play despite knowing that he had a fracture.

The two have a long history together, with Bosnjak starting his career in 1997 at Croatian side Cibalia under Simunic's guidance.

"I feel horrible, I haven't slept all night," said Simunic yesterday.

"I should have ignored Ivan's big desire to continue the game in the second half. It was a horrible kick and we saw a fracture on his face, but he begged me to play.

"It was difficult to say no... I remember during my playing days as a goalkeeper, I risked my life to play, took injections to play... Bosnjak is the same.

"He is crazy brave. This was his first (home) game for DPMM FC and he risked his life.

"Now his face is not the same... I'm not sure who did it but it was one of Hougang's three last men.... I will have to watch the replays.

"Salleh (defender Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit) also got many knocks, but this is football I'm not complaining.

"Football nowadays is like war, not about technique. Hougang are not the same team as they were under Bacina (former coach Nenad Bacina).

"They play aggressive football and are a better team than last year, but I expected a game like this and I respect Hougang," added last season's S-League Coach of the Year.

DPMM FC face Courts Young Lions (Singaporean national Under-23 team) on Thursday and Japanese team Albirex Niigata (S) FC on March 11, the games set to be played at Singapore's Jalan Besar Stadium and Jurong East Stadium respectively.

They return to the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas for their fifth game of the season against Woodlands, and it's safe to say Bosnjak won't be satisfied unless his name on the team-list.The Brunei Times

Majra secure top-3 finish with QAF win

Sunday, March 3, 2013
took a touch too many granting the QAF defenders a clearance.

Following half-time, QAF continued to dominate the game with impressive displays of overlapping runs between wingers and fullbacks.

It nearly paid off when Md Hafis cut in from the right to unleash a left-footed shot which unfortunately swayed inches wide from goal.

Majra, meanwhile, went into defensive mode and committed most of their players to their own half in a effort to retain their lead.

The game, however, did not pass without controversy as QAF's players and supporters were venting their emotions and questioned the referee's decision-making abilities.

The QAF faithful became more irate in the dying minutes of the game with protests of time wasting after some Majra players appeared to have dropped on the ground forcing the referee to stop the game and call medical personnel.

Following the match, Majra captain Yusof Salleh praised the defensive efforts of his backline in what he called was a "tight match".

"We had to work hard because QAF are a good team and were playing very well," he told The Brunei Times.

"Although it was tough for us, we made defending our priority and that paid off," he said.

He pointed out that the team's midfield should be an area of improvement having seen it largely overrun by the more livelier QAF midfielders.

"We definitely need to work on our midfield play because they rarely had the ball," he said.

The table-topping Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) will play against bottom-dwellers Kilanas FC at 4.15pm today at the Balapan Track and Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.

Wijaya FC will then take on Najip FC at the same venue at 8.15pm.

The Brunei Times

Heartbreak for DPMM FC

Saturday, March 2, 2013
DPMM FC blew a two-goal lead and missed two penalties in their Singapore League home opener against Hougang United FC last night, the 3-3 draw ranking as one of the most dramatic games in their three-year S-League history.

The Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas has always been a difficult place for most S-League teams to take points away from, the atmosphere created by the thousands of DPMM FC fans a world apart from the average crowd of 932 that the league recorded last year.

It wasn't a problem for Hougang goalkeeper Fadhil Salim though, who dove to his right twice to deny penalties from Shahrazen Said who was gunning for his hat-trick and Croatian Ivan Bosjnak, who was looking to score his first goal for his new club.

"Penalties are a gamble... A game of sychology too," noted Fadhil.

"I took a chance with the saves so it was pure luck that I guessed which side.

"Actually, I got a few tips from my (goalkeeper) coach Rezal Hassan Tips on which side to jump.

"I can't tell you more than that, or the other clubs will know what we're up to," he said teasingly.

DPMM FC's coach Vjeran Simunic, who was hardly in a mood for teasing after the game, might have been forgiven for thinking that Shahrazen's 61st minute brace would have sealed all the points after going 3-1 up.

But despite the hosts enjoying two penalties, the second sending Hougang captain Lau Meng Meng to an 80th minute shower for what looked like an elbow to DPMM FC's Portuguese striker Joao Vitor Rocha De Carvalho Moreira, Simunic still felt his team were robbed.

"We needed three penalties more!," he fumed, telling the press to write about the game after watching replays of the match.

"If you want to play handball, no problem," he said, referring to a goal-line clearance from Syaqir Sulaiman, who looked to have handled the ball when saving a 70th minute shot from Bosjnak.

"We missed two penalties but that's football. Shahrazen was under pressure to score a hat-trick, and Ivan made a mistake too, but that's football.

"Hougang have changed a lot of players this season and are much better than last year, but they play very brutal.

"I think Ivan has to go for an operation tomorrow, he had many elbows (thrown at him)," said Simunic.

Bosnjak did enter the second-half with his head bandaged, but that was no excuse for the team's inability to sustain pressure and hold the ball when it mattered the most.

Their spurned chances in front of goal Moreira shot straight at Fadhil after Shahrazen put him through on goal in the third minute was also another problem Simunic will want to rectify during training.

It was only fitting that Shahrazen, DPMM FC's top scorer with 14 goals last campaign, would score their first goal of the season after DPMM FC's opener against Home United ended 0-0 last Thursday.

Captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis' 27th minute free-kick from the left was met with a header at the far post from Croatian defender Dino Drpic, who sent the ball back across the goal to Shahrazen who rose the higest in a packed Hougang box.

Shahrazen was just as effective at the other end of the pitch, clearing a 35th minute free-kick from Syaqir to safety.

Mamadou Diallo, who was a burst of fresh air for Hougang down the middle, shrugged off midfielder Stephan Auvray in the 42nd minute after another surging run and laid the ball off to Liam Shotton on the left who cut past defender Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit and curled the ball beyond Wardun Yussof.

Simunic's half-time team talk seemed to have worked because DPMM FC came out a different animal in the second half, pressing in numbers and looking hungry for the ball.

However, it was some direct, no-nonsense football that led to the team getting in front 10 minutes after the restart.

Drpic launched a goal-kick well into the Hougang half in the 55th minute, Shahrazen held the ball up outside the box and laid it off to Moreira, who looked to have skewed his chance after a heavy touch led him away from goal though he quickly composed himself and chipped over Fadhil.

Rosmin's corner just past the hour-mark was met by a well-timed glancing header from Shahrazen, but the two-goal cushion was short-lived.

Diallo unleashed an unstoppable free-kick in the 64th minute after being fouled by Auvray, the cannonball to the top-left corner setting up a nervy end to the game.

Auvray redeemed himself by unselfishly squaring the ball for Bosnjak in the 70th minute after some good build-up play from Moreira, but Bosnjak's shot was heroically cleared off the line by Syaqir who collided with the post in the process.

Thomas Beattie bundled Bosnjak's attempt in the box in the 75th minute but Fadhil's save denied Shahrazen a third goal.

Poor marking after an Azhar Sairudin free-kick saw Syaqir head home an equaliser two minutes later, and though the home fans thought Bosnjak who played for his country at the 2006 World Cup would not miss his 80th minute penalty, Fadhil was up to the task once again.

Ravisanthiran should have given the hosts another chance at the line after Moreira was brought down in the 86th minute, but as Simunic said, "That's football."

The Brunei Times

01 March 2013

DPMM FC play Hougang tonight

Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh

Friday, March 1, 2013

DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic believes that tonight's Singapore League (S-League) match against Hougang United will be a test of his new signings' compatibility with the local players.

Playing one week after their 0-0 opener against Home United FC, the Croatian yesterday said that a win at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas tonight would be important to prove that the new signings are gelling well together with the squad.

"Looking from the game against Home United last week, the four new imports still need to coordinate. I know that it is not going to be easy. We need time for them to gel together with the team. We will see how they do tomorrow."

Last season's runner-up DPMM FC failed to find the back of the net against Home United at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore on Thursday.

"Hougang made a big surprise by defeating big teams last season except DPMM FC. Hougang did not lose both of their games against Tampines last season. But we beat them twice last season," said the coach.

"They sign a good number of players this year, four to six players, including their new tall striker (Liam Shotton). Dino (Drpic) will take care of him tomorrow.

"Dino was injured after the game against Home United. He didn't train for a week. But he will start the game tomorrow," added Simunic.

Good with the ball in the air, the towering Croatian defender Drpic brought a new dimension to DPMM's game.

The 31-year-old donned the colours of Dinamo Zagreb 201 times during his nine-year spell at the club, coming through the youth ranks of the club which has produced players such as Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar and rising sensation Alen Halilovic.

"It is very important to not making a mistake tomorrow," continued Simunic.

"Look at SAF... It was a shock. They lost 6-1 to Tanjong Pagar. We cannot make the same mistakes."

Warriors FC lost 6-1 to visiting Tanjong Pagar United at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Wednesday.

"Sairol (Sahari) will start tomorrow and Helmi (Zambin) will be on the bench. Joao (Joao Vitor Rocha De Carvalho Moreira) and Shahrazen (Said) will be upfront.

Stephan (Auvray), Jimbo (Hj Mohd Subhi Hj Abdillah Bakir), Bobby (Rosmin Hj Kamis) and Param (Azwan Salleh) in the middle.

"It will be a big game tomorrow. Hougang is a different team now. But I am optimistic. I always believe in my players," added the coach.

Hougang are enjoying a great start of the season after defeating Young Lions 1-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday.

"1-0 win against Young Lions. We did not play to our potential. Young Lions defended very well but I am pleased that we scored from the corner kick (set-piece), because it is what we have been working on," said Hougang's Coach Alex Weaver in an interview with The Brunei Times last night.

"I saw DPMM FC play a few times last season. They are probably the favourite to win the league this year. They got quality players and added good players this season and they have a very determined coach. It will be tough.

"We are aware of their attacking threat, especially with Said (Shahrazen) and Joao Moreira. We got to be very cautious as we approach the game," added the 36-year-old.

The Brunei Times