Shahrazen Said (R) and Abdul Aziz Tamit vie for the ball during a training session yesterday at the Jerudong Mini Stadium. Picture: BT/ Yee Chun Leong
DPMM FC are looking to right the ship in the Singapore League (S-League) as they take on Geylang International FC today at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
Brunei's only professional team are experiencing their worst spell of the season, having lost three consecutive matches in the competition. Fortunately they continue to lead the 12-team standings after 10-man Home United FC fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hougang United FC last night at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
DPMM FC are on 31 points, tied with Warriors FC and Tampines Rovers who edged Harimau Muda (Malaysia national under-21 football team) 1-0 at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor last night. Home United slipped to fourth on 30 points while Hougang United follow in fifth spot with 28 points.
DPMM FC had played out to a 1-1 draw against Geylang in their first meeting at the Bedok stadium in Singapore on March 28. Head coach Steve Kean expects another tough encounter but has put in the work to ensure the team can bounce back.
"It will be a tough game since we drew the last time we played. I got to watch them play against the Young Lions (Singapore national under-23 football team). They played well and should have won the match (which ended 0-0)," said Kean in an interview with The Brunei Times after their training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium yesterday.
"Good thing is that we are on our own pitch and the staff at the stadium has done a great job in maintaining the smooth surface. "We are looking to pass the ball more and gain control of the game early on," he added.
"We seem to be a little bit more spread out now so we've worked a lot on that the past couple of days with and without ball to be more compact," continued the Scotsman. DPMM FC suffered a scare after Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi, who is the league's joint topscorer with 14 goals, was taken off on the hour mark in their 2-1 loss to Tampines at the Clementi Stadium on Tuesday.
Kean was looking at the bigger picture and decided to preserve his striker for the taxing schedule. "He was feeling his groin and when Joe Gamble got booked, we knew that he would be suspended for the next match," explained Kean.
"Wanted to protect him (Tosi) as we didn't want anything worse which could have led to him being out for more games," he added. "He is too important for us and now he is fit to play," continued the former ex-Blackburn Rovers manager.
His counterpart Jorg Steinebrunner expects a tough outing but is heading into the matchup with confidence. "It will definitely be a tough game. DPMM FC are a good team and they have a good coach with Steve Kean," said the Geylang head coach.
"I'm sure they want to make amends for the last three games. We know how it feels as we had the same spell and tried to turn things around. "It is not easy to come to Brunei as the home team always put up a good performance and get good support," he added.
"As a team over the last three months, we have come together and steadily improved. We managed to get some good results especially beating Tampines a couple of days ago. "The team are at full confidence and we come here not to play defensively but to win the game. It doesn't matter if you play at home or away, we are looking to score goals," continued the German.
Asked on what his charges will have to look out for, Steinebrunner replied: "DPMM FC foreigners are above average compared to years before but we cannot forget the local players. "A team cannot depend on two or three players for successful football. You need the whole team to play on a good level and they have done so constantly. It is not for nothing for them to be on top of the league," he concluded.
Geylang are at full strength as they welcome back Argentinean midfielder Franco Chivilo back from a one game suspension. Kick off is at 8.15pm.