Najip FC's Ratano Hj Tuah (R) holds off a challenge from a Royal Brunei Police Forces Sports Council (MS PDB) player during their DST Super League match at the Balapan Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night. BT/ Faiq Airudinfile
Players being attended to during the DST Super League match between Najip FC and the Royal Brunei Police Forces Sports Council (MS PDB) at the Balapan Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night. BT/ Faiq Airudin
What a difference one year can make.
Najip FC - who lost all their games last season - find themselves on top of the DST Super League following their 3-0 win over the Royal Brunei Police Forces Sports Council (MS PDB) at the Balapan Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
Najip currently top the table with a maximum of nine points from three games.
Abdul Al-Wardi Abdul Hamid spearheaded Najip in the attack alongside former QAF FC player Ratano Hj Tuah.
Mohd Nooraimi Karim was the first to test MS PDB goalkeeper Mohd Khairul Amin Hj Zainuddin with a brilliant curling free-kick from the left in the second minute, but the goalkeeper managed to get his hands on the ball to parry it to safety.
Former Muara Vella winger Mohd Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir gave Najip the lead in the sixth minute, when he latched onto a perfect through ball from Abang Norsilmy Abang Hj Taha before lobbing the ball over the keeper.
The policemen responded almost immediately, captain Rosmini Hj Abdul Kahar's effort from 20 metres out floating just a few inches wide of the bar.
MS PDB midfielder Mohd Shahrizan Adam should have equalised on the half-hour mark when he was given plenty of space to shoot from outside the penalty box, but his powerful shot went straight into the hands of Najip goalkeeper Ron Junior Philip.
Abang Norsilmy came close to doubling Najip's lead on the ensuing possession when he latched onto a Mohd Karimurrizal Kasmi pass, but the former DPMM FC midfielder would squander the chance, sending his shot wide.
Another fine through ball by Abang Norsilmy set up Mohd Aminuddin Zakwan inside the penalty box, but MS PDB defender Rokiman Kisut was quick enough to nullify the threat.
Centre-back Mohd Azri Zahari and another former DPMM FC player Muhd Yusof Salleh were rock solid for Najip throughout the first half with their excellent defence.
MS PDB looked to have a better start in the second-half with Mohd Huzirol Mohd Idris smashing the bar from 20 metres out but that was the only real chance the policemen had as Najip continued to dominate.
Hj Khairul Anwar Hj Mohd Yaakub would come off the bench to score Najip's second goal in the 70th minute following a great pass from Mohd Azim Abdul Rahman.
Mohd Nooraimy would extend Najip's lead to 3-0 just a minute later with a great solo effort following a swift counter attack.
In an interview with The Brunei Times after the match, Najip's head coach Johari Hj Bungsu credited the team's spirit and teamwork for the victory.
"The team's spirit was fantastic and their teamwork was excellent... I am very happy with our form at the moment, everyone played very well tonight, it was a teamwork victory," said Johari.
"We were very cautious in the first five minutes as we knew MS PDB is one of the strongest team in the league and the condition of the field (wet) caused us to make some changes in tactics and approach of the game.
"The first goal was crucial" added the head coach.
"We controlled the game after the first goal and the players were very confident afterwards,"
"Overall I am very happy with three points today and we now top the league, but we still have a very long journey as there are still many important games left to play," added the coach.