Rosmin Kamis (L) and Sairol Haji
Sahari (R) showing off the
Singapore League Cup trophy after
winning last year's edition of
the competition. Picture: BT
DPMM FC will be hoping to rescue their dismal Singapore League season when they start their Singapore League Cup title defence against Balestier Khalsa FC tonight.
Last season's S-League runners-up are currently seventh in the 12-team league and have failed to recreate the form that saw them force the S-League title race to the wire with Tampines Rovers FC only confirming the trophy on the last day of the season when they beat Harimau Muda and DPMM FC fell, perhaps tellingly, to Balestier.
The League Cup, though, offers DPMM FC a chance to start afresh with the top-two team in each of the four groups advancing to the next round.
DPMM FC became the first foreign team to win the trophy in 2009, and their capture of the cup last season means they are the only club to have won the tournament twice.
Drawn in Group D with Balestier and Warriors FC, DPMM FC take on the former at the Toa Payoh Stadium in Singapore tonight and the latter at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on Sunday.
The Jalan Besar Stadium has been the scene of both of their League Cup victories, and their last appearance on its artificial turf saw them rack up a 4-0 win over Lao Police Club in their first match of the Singapore Cup last Thursday.
Balestier should be just as buoyant though, with their 4-0 demolition of league leaders Tampines on May 25 a morale booster as is the fact they have won three of their last four games.
"We're really confident now after that good performance against Lao Police Club," said DPMM FC coach Vjeran Simunic on Monday.
"I've got nothing much to say about Balestier, but they'll be a big challenge.
"They have one of the best defences in the league and have strong players like (defender) Paul Cunningham and (forward) Qiu Li.
"If we can stop Qiu Li, we can stop Balestier," he added.
The reigning S-League Coach of the Year will be pleased to learn that the S-League website has reported that Qiu Li will not be on the start list tonight after the naturalised China-born Singaporean was recalled to the Singaporean national squad "due to some excellent performances this season".
Though DPMM FC have done well to pick up Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi the day the transfer window opened on Monday, the midfielder's international transfer certificate has yet to arrive from former club Esteghlal of Iran denying him a chance to lace up for the second time after a previously successful stint with the club during their 2005/06 Malaysian Super League season.
DPMM FC will take on Warriors FC in their second Group D game on Sunday, the eight-time S-League champions definitely out to prove a point after being knocked out of the Singapore Cup at the first hurdle last Saturday.
Global FC kicked the Singapore Cup holders Warriors FC out of the competition after beating them 2-0 in the first-round, and with DPMM FC drawn to play the Filipino side in the second round of the Singapore Cup, Simunic will know the stiff task his men face.
The quarter-finals will be played over two legs, from July 22-29.
The draw was held on Tuesday, and the S-League's website states that away goals will not be taken into consideration for the two-legged ties.