DPMM FC’s Azwan Ali Rahman (R) goes for a shot during a training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium yesterday. Picture: BT/Yee Chun Leong
BY YEE CHUN LEONG
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - DPMM FC are gunning for their first back-to-back victories in this year’s Singapore League (S-League) season when they host an out-of-form Balestier Khalsa FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas tonight.
The Brunei side are coming off their third win of the season after beating the Garena Young Lions (Singapore national Under-21 football team) 4-1 last Friday. It brings the defending champions’ tally to 11 points after seven matches, and DPMM FC coach Steve Kean is hoping they can end the first round on a high.
“It is a slow start to the first round and we had a major setback losing to Tampines (2-1 on March 19),” said Kean after yesterday’s training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium.
“If we can put back-to-back wins together, we will be able to see the confidence flooding back into the side.
“I’m confident we will score, but we just have to make sure that we make it difficult for Balestier to get any chances - never mind score!
“When you play against a team that stay in the box a lot… It can cause problems. First and foremost, we have to defend properly,” continued the Scotsman.
The last meeting between both sides saw DPMM FC romp to a 4-0 victory on Nov 21, allowing them to clinch their maiden S-League title.
The Tigers are struggling with form to start the season and are still in search of their first triumph in the competition.
They are coming into the encounter with a five-game losing streak, including two in the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup – the latest a 3-0 setback to Kaya FC of the Philippines on Tuesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
Kean remains cautious about his opponents and wants his charges not to slip up against Balestier.
“We just have to make sure that we give Balestier the status and credit that they deserve,” said the former Blackburn Rovers manager.
“Everybody is waiting for them to kick start their season,” said the former Blackburn Rovers manager.
“This is a potential banana skin if we don’t approach it right. We have to be at our A game and I’m confident we can bring home the points.
“We have to put 90 minutes together and we know their style. We been working a lot this week on picking up second balls and tighten our defensive organisation on set plays,” added Kean.
On the other hand, Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic felt that having to play so many matches in a short span of time is taking its toll on the team.
“We are not having a good start and we have had some injuries. The AFC Cup is also taking lot of energy from us,” said Kraljevic in an interview yesterday.
“This is the fourth game in 12 days for us. We don’t have a team with a big squad and that’s why it has been tough,” he added.
Regardless, Kraljevic remains optimistic and is hoping that they can get in the win column despite trouble finding the back of the net.
The Tigers have only scored two so far in seven matches, and their last three S-League matches against Hougang United FC, Home United FC and Tampines Rovers FC respectively resulted in 1-0 losses.
“Hopefully tomorrow (Friday) will be our first win. You never know. Every time we lost 1-0 or finish the match in a draw, we could have won those games,” said the Croatian.
“We had few chances and could have made it. We have lots of problems upfront and even Miro(slav Kristic) who had 16 last season hasn’t scored yet.
“But every day we are work on our attacking third. So far it is getting better but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Kristic was third in last season’s goal scoring charts behind Brunei DPMM FC’s Rafael Ramazotti (21) and Warriors FC forward Fazrul Nawaz (18).
Meanwhile, Hougang moved to the top of the nine-team standings after edging Warriors FC 1-0 last night thanks to Fumiya Kogure’s goal. The Cheetahs are now on 16 points followed by both Albirex Niigata (S) FC and Tampines, who are two points back.
-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times