DPMM FC striker Shahrazen Said
(R) celebrates with fans after
winning the 2012 edition of
the Singapore League Cup.
Shahrazen believes the team
must keep their focus if they
are to have any chance of
defending their Singapore
League Cup title. DPMM FC take
on Warriors FC tonight.
Picture: BT file
Not only do DPMM FC have to play a tense must-win match against Warriors FC in the Singapore League Cup tonight, the titleholders will be forced to endure a nervy two-day wait to see whether they progress to the next round.
The two-time champions take on record eight-time Singapore League winners Warriors formerly known as Singapore Armed Forces FC in the second of their two League Cup Group D fixtures, the first of which they lost 2-1 to Balestier Khalsa FC on Thursday.
Balestier meet Warriors in the last group match next Wednesday, and though DPMM FC will have to wait with baited breath until then, they know they have more pressing matters to attend to for now.
"It's very important that we win if we want to get through," said striker Shahrazen Said ahead of the match at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
"Of course there is pressure on us since we are the defending champions, but we must play like normal.
"Confidence is alright (within the team), but even if we win, we have to hope that results between Balestier and Warriors go our way.
"What is important is that we stay focused every second and not do what we did against Balestier, where we lost three points in the last few minutes," added the striker, whose team-high 14 goals helped the club win the League Cup and finish second in the S-League last season.
Shahrazen put DPMM FC 1-0 ahead when they met Balestier on Thursday, but the hosts would storm back with two late goals in the last 10 minutes.
The kick-off was delayed for two hours due to a lightning alert at the Toa Payoh Stadium, a growing norm in Singapore football this season.
Though the late kick-off wasn't on captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis' mind when he spoke to The Brunei Times after the match against Balestier, the skipper was as adamant as Shahrazen as to the importance of tonight's tie.
"There is no other choice but to win," Rosmin said pointedly.
"The spirit of the team is still at a high, but we will not underestimate Warriors, (especially) since they beat us at home earlier this year (2-0 on May 5).
"A draw against Balestier would have been a fair result for us.
"It was our mistake that we conceded the first goal, but I thought it was a bad call by the assistant referee to give a foul near the line for their (Balestier) second goal.
"It would have been a bonus had we won that game, but now this has become a must-win match for us (if we are to) advance into the next round," he stressed.
Though DPMM FC are currently seventh in the 12-team S-League table with 19 points from 14 games, and Warriors 10th with 15 points from 13 games, league standings count for little in cup matches like these.
DPMM FC lost 2-0 to Warriors the last time the two teams faced off in the S-League in May, but perhaps more fitting in the League Cup context is the 2-0 result the Bruneians enjoyed over their hosts during last year's semi-finals, the victory moving them into the final where they then lifted the trophy for the second time after beating Geylang International FC 2-0.
Warriors defeated DPMM FC 2-0 in exactly the same stage of the League Cup last season, though DPMM FC would advance to the next round (quarter-finals) as they beat Tanjong Pagar United FC 1-0 in their other match and Warriors went past them 3-0.
But perhaps the most memorable DPMM FC-Warriors match-up was in 2009 when the two giants of their respective countries went head-to-head in the League Cup final, DPMM FC triumphing 4-3 on penalties to finally announce their arrival on the regional stage with their first major trophy.