DPMM FC's Shahrazen Said
(C) dribbling the ball
during their Singapore
League Cup semi-final
Wellington FC on
Courtesy of S-League
VJERAN Simunic believes DPMM FC's 1-0 win against Woodlands Wellington in Tuesday's Singapore League Cup semi-final has proven that the tournament's defending champions are still a force to be reckoned with despite their ailing league form.
The only team to have won the League Cup twice, DPMM FC will have the chance to make it title number three when they take on Balestier Khalsa in Saturday's final where victory will go a long way in making up for their mediocre Singapore League form.
Brunei's premier football club were beaten to last year's S-League crown by Tampines Rovers by one point on the final day of the season, and naturally, expectations were high that they would be title contenders this season.
That hasn't been the case though.
They lie 10th in the 12-team S-League table after a season plagued with injury concerns and import woes, but the DPMM FC coach said that Tuesday night's win at the Woodlands Stadium in Singapore courtesy of a Md Hendra Azam Md Idris free-kick has shown they are still a quality side.
Simunic was forced to play without three of his four imports after Portuguese striker Joao Moreira was ruled out with a fractured arm, Brazilian defender Tales Ricarte dos Santos relegated to the bench with a hamstring strain and Lithuanian striker Arturas Rimkevicius deemed not fit enough to start the game with the win reinforcing his long-standing belief in his local players.
"Today's (Tuesday) performance showed we are close to playing like last year when we had a great season," the DPMM FC coach was quoted as saying on the S-League website.
"I'm very proud of this team because I always said Brunei has potential.
"Some people say we don't have enough good players (but) today (Tuesday) we showed we are a good team because Woodlands is an excellent team and we beat them.
"We attacked for 90 minutes and we played with three strikers; we did not come here to defend.
"Woodlands have the best players in the league with (South Korean strikers) Moon (Soon Ho) and Chang (Jo Yoon) but we kept them quiet.
"Many people thought it would be an easy game (for Woodlands) but football is football, on the pitch it's different," noted last year's S-League Coach of the Year who led the team to glory in the inaugural Singapore League Cup trophy in 2009.
His counterpart Salim Moin was left ruing missed chances as his side fell at home to the underdogs, the coach noting that the long gap in between matches his team last played on August 29 and a missed penalty by Moon in the 27th minute were factors in the loss.
Despite the defeat, Salim was proud of his men for reaching the last four and said that their current standing in the league they are sixth and will advance to the next round of this year's new two-round system means he has met the goal set by the club's management.
"We didn't take our chances well" the Woodlands coach said.
"We could have won the game in the first half.
"The penalty was the turning point of the game and I think the team felt very disappointed when the penalty was not converted.
"After that there was no organisation and the players started to put themselves under pressure.
"The resting period is too long (and) the players get very fatigued because there are no matches.
"Match fitness and training match fitness are totally different (and) when we are resting too long the tournament becomes stale.
"When it becomes stale the players become complacent, and when the players become complacent the coach would not know how to plan.
"I know how my players feel, and as a coach, I am the most disappointed person."