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Simunic wary of Tanjong Pagar threat
Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vjeran Simunic knows that Singapore League Cup titleholders DPMM FC will have to keep a tight leash on Monsef Zerka if they are to win tonight's quarter-final tie against Tanjong Pagar United FC.

The ex-Morocco international has been a revelation for Tanjong Pagar in his debut season and he currently shares the lead atop the Singapore League scoring charts with Albirex Niigata FC's (S) Kazuki Sakamoto with eight goals.

Zerka, who has played in France's Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 with AS Nancy and FC Nantes, also scored the only goal when Tanjong Pagar beat DPMM FC 1-0 in the S-League in April, so DPMM FC players should need no introduction to the striker.

Simunic has also identified Frenchman Ismael Benhamed as a threat for the hosts at the Queenstown Stadium in Singapore, and with the duo netting three of their team's four goals in the League Cup thus far, the Croatian has every reason to be concerned.

"Zerka will be a problem," warned the DPMM FC coach on Friday.

"He's the best marquee player in the league and the most famous name in the S-League.

"They also have another strong player in Ismael Benhamed, so our plan will be to stop them both.

"Tanjong Pagar are one of the best teams in Singapore at the moment and they have title aspirations but our players are very hungry and they will fight like never before," promised the reigning S-League Coach of the Year.

Tanjong Pagar are currently third in the 12-team S-League table and have the most potent strike force in the competition after netting a league-high 25 goals in 14 games.

Zerka has had a lot of help from Benhamed and Kamel Ramdani though, both of whom have chipped in with six goals each.

Tellingly, the trio have scored all of Tanjong Pagar's goals in the League Cup this season.

The Jaguars progressed to the quarter-finals by beating the Young Lions (Singaporean national Under-23 team) 3-0 in their second group stage match with Zerka grabbing a brace and Ramdani scoring the other.

Tanjong Pagar started their campaign with a 2-1 loss to S-League defending champions and leaders Tampines Rovers FC, with Benahmed on the scoresheet on that instance.

Tampines lost their second group stage match 3-2 to the Young Lions, the result meaning the Stags would finish their group second behind Tanjong Pagar.

A win for Tampines would have seen them top the group and face DPMM FC, a fact which Simunic was quick to point out.

"Tampines finished second in the group after they lost to Young Lions (and) perhaps it was because they didn't want to play us," he said jokingly.

Tampines won't be playing any more Singapore League Cup football though as they were sent out of the competition after losing 4-3 on penalties to Balestier after their match at the Toa Payoh Stadium in Singapore ended 3-3 last night.

Japanese outfit Albirex Niigata FC (S) will join Balestier in the last-four after beating Home United FC 7-6 on penalties after a 1-1 stalemate in last night's other quarter-final at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore.

Tonight's other quarter-final will see Geylang International FC, who DPMM FC beat 2-0 to win the competition last year, square off against Woodlands Wellington FC at the Bedok Stadium in Singapore.

Courtesy from Brunei Times