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Simunic eyes final hurrah
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vjeran Simunic has the chance to cap off his second spell at DPMM FC with a win against Geylang International FC tonight, a team which has come out on the losing end in all six previous encounters with the Croatian.

The wily coach will take to the bench at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas for the last time as the Bruneians aim to end their Singapore League season on a high.

A win against the Eagles will be enough for the host to finish their third S-League campaign seventh and earn $25,000 by displacing Warriors FC - who were held 1-1 by Harimau Muda B (Malaysian Under-21 national team) last night - as the top team in the second-tier.

Despite the imminent arrival of former Blackburn Rovers FC manager Steve Kean to replace Simunic (pic), the storied coach insists he has better things to think about.

"Myself and the team, we are only thinking about the game and three points," he said yesterday.

"I like the team to do the best possible. Of course, finishing seventh is on our mind - and it would be nice to do so.

"It's like a small trophy," he noted.

DPMM FC have never lost points to Geylang in a run that stretches back to their first season in the S-League in 2009, when DPMM FC beat them 5-3 in the quarter-finals of the Singapore League Cup in May of that year.

Since then, Simunic's men have gone on to score 14 goals in their next five meetings against Geylang and have let in only four.

The most memorable of the six showdowns between the two sides came on 11 August 2012 when DPMM FC beat Geylang 2-0 to lift the Singapore League Cup for the second time - becoming the first team to do so.

But unlike in any of those games, or Simunic's reign at the club which started in 2008 when they were in the Malaysian Super League, DPMM FC will be without two seasoned players tonight.

Evergreen defender Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit and goalkeeper Wardun Yussof will both be unavailable due to suspension, the former picking up his fourth yellow card of the season in last week's 2-2 draw with Harimau Muda B - where Wardun was shown a straight red in the 10th minute.

Aziz Tamit looks likely to replace 1999 Malaysia Cup winner Pg Sallehuddin and Muhd Fakhrul Zulhazmi Yussof handed the gloves.

"This will be the first time I will be without these key players in the game, but like always, we have good answers from the bench," said Simunic of the suspensions.

His counterpart has some concerns of his own.

Geylang striker Wahyudi Abd Wahid is suspended, and the injured quartet of striker Shotaro Ihata, midfielder Fabian Kwok, centre-back Khayrulhayat Jumat and right-back Khairulnizam Jumahat means that V Kanan will be without nearly half his first-11 tonight.

"It won't be a problem," he said, "because we've had this happening to us all season - but we have capable substitutes to play."

Captain Jozef Kaplan will be one to watch out for tonight, especially since the Slovakian is on 13 goals - just two shy of joint-top scorers Aleksandar Duric and Moon Soon Ho.

A win for the Eagles could see them displace DPMM FC and finish eighth, and Kanan feels his men have it in them to do just that.

"We've never beaten DPMM FC so we want to change that," he said.

"This is the last game of the season so I think the boys will go all out.

"The last time we played them we because of a last minute free-kick," he pointed out.

"We played well and we had our chances but we didn't capitalise on them," said the coach of their 1-0 loss in the S-League in July.

Will last year's loss in the Singapore League Cup final be playing on their mind?

Kanan doesn't think so.

"Of course that we still remember that loss," said Kanan as he slowly walked back to the team bus after training. "But I don't think it'll affect the players because it's a different team."

Courtesy from Brunei Times