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 ..

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