DPMM FC players celebrate scoring during an earlier S-League match. DPMM FC will kick off their S-League campaign with a string of tough matches against some of the league's top teams this season. BT file
DPMM FC striker Shahrazen Said believes that competitive pre-season matches will help his team withstand a tough run of games in the S-League this season.
The club will be leaving for Thailand tomorrow to compete in the Saksee Phuket Cup as they step up their preparations for their first match of the season against Albirex Niigata (S) on February 22 at the Jurong East Stadium in Singapore.
They will then face Warriors FC on February 28 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas before travelling to Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore to play Home United on March 13.
DPMM FC next host defending champions Tampines Rover FC on March 23.
"It is good to have stronger teams earlier in the season, I prefer it that way as we can measure our strength and try to win the league... Also I think that pre-season games are very important to keep us ready and fit to face strong teams," said Shahrazen.
"The coach is still looking for his best 11 for this season, and the pre-season games in Phuket are where you want to prove that you are (deserve to be the) starting eleven, so we must treat this tournament competitively," he added.
Captain Rosmin Hj Kamis echoed Shahrazen's sentiments.
"Yes it is quite a tough fixture, but we have to face them sooner or later, so it doesn't matter," said Rosmin.
"If we can win get three points in our first match, it will be good for the team's confidence."
For seasoned players like Shahrazen and Rosmin, the fixtures are not too much of a concern but it is certainly intimidating for the younger players like Azwan Ali Rahman and Mohd Hendra Azam Mohd Idris.
"It is quite tough. We got Albirex, Warriors, Home United and Tampines in our first four games," said 22-year-old Azwan.
"I do not want to think too much about it. The only thing that we can do for now is to keep training hard," he said.
Mohd Hendra said: "We have to focus on ourselves this year if we are to compete for the title."
"Last season was very disappointing, I hope with the new coach (Steve Kean) we will be able to bounce back this season."
Kean, the former Blackburn Rovers manager, will be leading the Sultanate's only professional club this season following the departure of Croatian Vjeran Simunic.
DPMM finished runners-up of the S-League in 2012, their best ever finish in the competition yet.
They also won the League Cup for a second time that year but only managed an eighth-place finish last year.