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DPMM FC, Kelantan face off
Friday, January 31, 2014

DPMM FC head coach Steve Kean (R) talking to assistant coach Moksen Mohammad during his first day on the job on November 27. Kean will make his home debut against Kelantan tonight. BT file

DPMM FC striker Shahrazen Said juggling theball during training in this file photo. Shahrazen said he is expecting coach Steve Kean to make changes as tonight's friendly against Kelantan progresses. BT file

DPMM FC will host Kelantan in a friendly match tonight as they step up their preparations for next month's Singapore League (S-League), and Bruneians get their first look of new coach Steve Kean at the dugout.

The club were in Thailand for the 2014 Phuket Saksee Cup last week, winning their first game 3-1 against Nakhon Si Heritage on Friday before going down 2-0 at the hands of Phuket FC at the Surakul Stadium in Phuket on Sunday.

Wholesale changes were made in both games as Kean looked to get the best out of his team, and striker Shahrazen Said expects more of the same at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas tonight - where entrance for the match is free.

"We are still in the process of searching for our best-11, and for the match against Kelantan, we might see a lot of rotations as the coach wants to give chances to all players to prove they are worthy to be on the team," said Shahrazen yesterday.

"We last played Kelantan two years ago in Acheh, Indonesia (in a 1-1 draw).

"Kelantan have changed a lot since then, and so have we, so I do not know what to expect of them - but we all know they are a very good team.

"Pre-season matches are all about getting ready for the real tournament, so I hope this match will help us to prepare for the S-League season," he added.

DPMM FC will face Albirex Niigata (S) FC on Feb 22 and will take on Warriors FC on Feb 28 in their first home game of the season at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

They will then travel to the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore to play Home United on March 13 before hosting defending champions Tampines Rover FC on March 23 in a true test of their title credentials.

DPMM finished runners-up in 2012 in their best season in the S-League.

They also won the League Cup for a second time in 2012 but suffered a change of fortunes last season, finishing eighth in the S-League and losing 4-0 in the League Cup final to Balestier Khalsa FC.

DPMM FC have signed defender Boric Raspudic from Bosnia, midfielders Roberto Alviz from Croatia and Joe Gamble from Ireland - with Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi also given a contract extension.

DPMM FC are still searching for a marquee signing, with the club having been linked with former Borussia Dortmund forward Euzebiusz Smolarek, ex-Sampdoria striker Ikechukwu Kalu and former Arsenal and Everton striker Francis Jeffers.

Under the guidance of their new manager Steve Derby, Kelantan currently sit fourth in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) with six points.

According to Malaysian daily The Star, Kelantan were dislodged as MSL leaders after going down 2-1 to PKNS FC at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium on Tuesday.

The Red Warriors, who won their opening two matches, started off well and grabbed the lead through Ahmad Fakri Saarani in the 30th minute.

Selangor replaced Kelantan as leaders after edging Malaysia Cup champions Pahang 1-0 earlier in the day.

Despite losing players such as midfielders Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Mohd Shakir Shaari, strikers Mohd Norfarhan Mohd, Dickson Nwakaeme, Azizi Matt Rose, S Subramaniam and defender Daudsu Jamaluddin, Kelantan will still be a tough opponent for DPMM FC.

Kelantan have signed three new imports this year - strikers Francis Doe from Liberia and Mohd Ghaddar from Lebanon and midfielder Mohamed Shawky from Egypt, while defender Obinne Nwaneri from Nigeria has been retained from last season.

They also added new local players such as Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria, Tengku Hasbullah Raja Hassan, Amar Rohidan and Shakir Ali.

The Red Warriors have lost many top players since bagging the treble of the Super League, Malaysia Cup and FA Cup under former coach Croatian Bojan Hodak in 2012.

Last season, they managed to retain only the FA Cup after defeating Johor Darul Takzim 1-0 in the final.

They only managed to finish fourth in the league and lost 1-0 to Pahang in the Malaysia Cup.

Besides that, Kelantan are also participating in the second-tier AFC Cup competition. Kelantan are in Group G with Myanmar's Yangon United, Vietnam's Vissai Ninh Binh and Hong Kong's South China FC.

Courtesy from Brunei Times