INDERA SC’s title hopes were dealt a massive blow after they slipped to a 2-1 defeat by a resurgent Kasuka FC in the DST Super League at the Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex yesterday.
Kasuka made certain that the league title will be a four-horse race with Wijaya FC also in the frame after climbing above Indera SC in second place by virtue of a superior goal difference.
The result hurt the two-time winners who were hoping to keep in touch with league leaders MS ABDB, who now enjoy a four-point cushion at the summit with the comfort of playing a game less than their rivals.
On a day when Indera lost ground in the title race, the army personnel exacted redemption on Lun Bawang- who inflicted their first loss of the season- after a narrow 1-0 victory at the Batu Apoi Sports Complex in the Temburong District.
Mohamad Saufi bin Salleh’s solitary goal in the 62nd minute handed the reigning holders their ninth win of the season.
Indera SC went in front through Hazwan Hamzah in the 35th minute but the lead was short-lived as his former DPMM FC teammate Muhammad Maududi Hilmi bin Kasmi snatched an equaliser just three minutes later. Maziri Maidin’s effort in the 74th minute proved the winner.
Indera forward Mohammad Aimmil Rahman bin Ramlee looked to get the end of a through ball but his progress was tracked by a Kasuka FC defender who cleared the ball for a corner.
The two-time winners should have levelled the match when Mohammad Aimmil Rahman was set free in the box. The Kasuka defence were caught napping but they were left unpunished as Mohammad Aimmil headed wide Hazwan’s cross with the goal at his mercy.
On the other end, an unmarked Kasuka player saw his header well wide the mark as they looked to put the game to bed.
Kasuka substitute Afindi Yati bin Tuah attempted a shot from distance after spotting Indera goalkeeper Mohammad Ahsanuddin bin Haji Mohd Dani off his line.
The referee had kept the cards on his pockets but he was left with no choice but to book Indera’s goalkeeper Mohammad Ahsanuddin and Kasuka duo of Mohd Hanif Aiman bin Haji Adanan and Afindi Yati, as tensions between both sides rose deep in injury time.
When the final whistle was blown, the Kasuka coaching setup epitomised a picture of profound joy with the realisation of a change of complexion in the title race.
MS ABDB ended Indera SC’s short reign as league leaders of the DST Super League after returning to the top of the table with a narrow 1-0 win over Wijaya FC at the Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex yesterday.
Muhammad bin Ibrahim was the unlucky player who put through his own net in the 69thminute to hand MS ABDB an eighth victory in 10 league matches.
Title rivals Indera sat at the top of the league before kick-off after their 3-0 win over Kota Ranger FC last Saturday night.
MS ABDB lead the 10-team table by a single point though they have a game in hand than their fiercest rivals.
However, the army personnel passed their sternest test so far against one of the in-form teams with Wijaya one of three teams that only lost once.
Meanwhile, third-placed Kasuka FC are also in the mix in the title race after they enhanced their hopes with a 4-1 win over Setia Perdana.
In another match at Batu Apoi Sports Complex in Temburong District, Lun Bawang beat Najip Bakes FC with the score of 2-1.
Lun Bawang’s Zaimi Awat scored the first goal at 30th minute and his teammate Ehsan Haji Moksin scored the second goal at 56th minute. Najip Bakes FC’s only goal was scored by Mohd Hanafizal at the 67th minute.
NEWLY appointed DPMM FC coach Adrian Pennock is looking to close the gap on Albirex Niigata FC (S).
The 47-year-old, who succeeded Brazilian Rene Weber, is not yet familiar with the Singapore Premier League but knows that the three-time defending champions are the team to beat.
“I have seen games on DVDs and on livestreams and I know that Albirex didn’t lose a game last season,” said Pennock in an interview with BruSports News yesterday.
“They are the standard we want to get to. Looking back to when Steve Kean was here, he had done a great job to win the League but they had five overseas players then.
“The rules are different now and we will have to look at Albirex. They are the top of the tree and we need to get closer to them and go from there,” he added.
The 47-year-old arrived in Brunei at the beginning of December and have spent most of the past two weeks holding trials in search of filling up their import quota.
They have successfully done so by netting the trio of Charlie Clough (England), Blake Ricciuto (Australia) and Andrey Varankov (Belarus) for the upcoming campaign.
Pennock is pleased with the signings as well as the showing of the local footballers.
“The trials went very well and we have signed three players. Good thing is that both the overseas players and the local players have put all in despite a tough two weeks,” said the former Stoke City first-team coach.
“I’m very pleased with the three overseas players that we got and pleased with the Bruneian players.
“We know that there are things to do but they have been first class and very good,” he added.
The club had their last training session of the year yesterday at the Jerudong Mini Stadium and will only return to the grounds on January 3.
“The first two days (when we return) will be tests such as ECG (electrocardiogram), fat and weigh ins,” revealed Pennock.
“The five days after will be very tough with hill runs, gym work, swimming and obviously football.
“We want to get more mileage into their legs and build their stamina up. We will also be going to Thailand after that and get some games in. I’m looking forward to coming back in January,” added Pennock, who previously played for Bournemouth and Gillingham
When asked on how well he has settled down in Brunei, Pennock replied: “I’ve just settled in very quickly because everybody here is so friendly and warming.
“Everybody is very warm and welcoming from His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince all the way to the players.
“Everybody has been very good. I’m really enjoying it for over the past two weeks I’ve been here,” he concluded.