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DPMM FC's heartbreak
Thursday, November 7, 2013

HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah (C), the Deputy Sultan, with HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah (2nd R), HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik (2nd L), YAM Pg Muda 'Abdul 'Aleem (R) and YAM Pg Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pg Anak Haji Abdul Rahim Pg Indera Mahkota Pengiran Anak (Dr) Kemaludin Al-Haj (L) watching the S-League match between DPMM FC and Geylang International FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night. BT/ Saiful Omar

DPMM FC's Shahrazen Said (R) heads the ball to score his team's second goal during their Singapore League match against Geylang International FC last night. BT/ Saiful Omar

A last minute goal summed up DPMM FC's season last night as Brunei's only professional club squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Geylang International FC in the final game of the Singapore League.

Runners-up last season, injury and import woes mean the club end this year's campaign on eighth and lose out on the $25,000 they would have got for finishing seventh as the best team in the second-tier.

They have also surrendered their six-game winning streak against the Eagles - definitely not the kind of farewell long-serving coach Vjeran Simunic had in mind before entering the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas for the last time, emotions heightened since his replacement Steve Kean was watching from the stands.

Making the pill even harder to swallow was the fact DPMM FC lost out on seventh to Warriors due to goal difference.

DPMM FC had a slew of chances to kill the game off after Shahrazen Said's glancing header made it 2-0 a minute into the second half, though hats must go off to Geylang goalie Takuma Ito for pulling off several incredible saves before visiting captain Jozef Kaplan made it 2-1 in the 66th minute.

Never before have Geylang managed to win any points off DPMM FC in a run that stretched back to May 2009 when DPMM FC first took to the S-League, but they were intent on changing that and launched waves after waves of attack, and were rewarded in the 90th minute when Stefan Milojevic poked home a loose ball in the box which ricocheted off defender Tales Ricarte dos Santos's leg.

It was perhaps to be expected that Geylang would net an equaliser after piling on the pressure late in the game and penning the hosts deep into their own half, but DPMM FC have to take the blame for not playing the clock out and taking their chances when it mattered.

There was nothing dos Santos or any of his DPMM FC teammates could do after the ball was put into a box swarming with players, and the Brazilian - who was playing his last match for the club - cannot be blamed for the goal.

Geylang threatened as early as the fourth minute when Kaplan forced Azman Ilham - who was replacing the suspended Wardun Yussof - to come off his line for a save.

It was the first game Simunic had played without both Wardun and veteran vocal defender Pg Sallehuddin Pg Hj Damit, who was replaced by the capable right-winger Hj Muhd Subhi Abdillah Bakir.

Simunic's men got in front after Rodrigo Tosi headed home a 19th minute free-kick by captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis on the left, but Kaplan could have equalised a minute later if not for sending his attempt wide of the mark.

Rosmin was guilty of missing a golden opportunity to add to the lead in the 25th minute after receiving a pass from Azwan Ali Rahman and cutting past his defender, only to sky the ball wide.

Kaplan saw a similar attempt go astray a few minutes later and Shahrazen had an attempt from six yards out saved by Ito.

Apart from Shahrazen's near-post header off a Rosmin corner early in the second half, DPMM FC's poor finishing was a reoccurring theme for the rest of the match, and they would eventually pay for it.

Azwan Ali Rahman was the stand-out player in the second half for his ability to find space for himself and find players in space when he was on the ball - but he also stood out for his tameness in front of goal.

He had a half-volley saved in the 49th minute but really should have got the better of Ito a minute later when Shahrazen's pass found him in space on the left, only for the glovesman to pull off a double-save.

Azwan Ali Rahman's most mesmerising moment came in the 58th minute when Shahrazen provided him the ball and he dribbled it half the length of the field and beat his marker - only to see the Japanese custodian dive to his right for a superb save.

The midfielder turned provider for Shahrazen with a pass that put the striker through on goal in the 52nd minute, only for the striker to be denied by Ito.

DPMM FC's missed chances came back to haunt them when a long ball from the right found an unmarked Kaplan, who easily slotted the ball past Azman for a morale-boosting goal.

Hj Muhd Subhi had a header which hit the bar in the 70th minute, but once Geylang found another gear late into the game, it was perhaps inevitable that DPMM FC would see their season end on such a sour note.

Courtesy from Brunei Times