DPMM FC's Roy O' Donovan (C) kicks the ball during their S-League game against Albirex Niigata (S) FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas on May 14. The Irishman scored the winning goal against Albirex in the first leg of their Singapore Cup quarter-final on Sunday. BT file
DPMM FC head coach Steve Kean has praised marquee signing Roy O'Donovan for playing the role of the hero on Sunday night.
The Irishman struck a winner late in injury time to give DPMM FC a 4-3 advantage over Albirex Niigata (S) FC heading into the second leg of their Singapore Cup quarter-final, scoring the decisive goal after surging down the right and past a stagnant Albirex defence before unleashing a powerful strike to beat Kenjiro Ogino at the Jurong East Stadium in Singapore.
Kean was delighted with the win and said that former Sunderland striker O'Donovan showed "maturity and class to find the target". "When you have a player like Roy O'Donovan in the side, he can pop up and get a goal late on in the game like he's showed today," Kean was quoted as saying on the S-League website.
DPMM FC got off to a blistering start and opened up a 3-0 lead just after 17 minutes with goals by Croatian midfielder Roberto Alviz, O'Donovan and Brazilian striker Rodrigo Tosi. However, the Japanese outfit came storming back to tie the game by the 73rd minute with goals by Kazuya Okazaki, Keisuke Ota and Kazuki Sakamoto.
Despite being on the backfoot in the second half, Kean felt that it was a deserved win for his charges. "Credit to Albirex, I felt they kept going," said Kean.
"Like I said before the game, they are a technically good side and they play lots of good football. "They came back but we showed character.
"You've seen a total contrast in how the two halves were played. Even the last 10 minutes of the first half I thought it was all Albirex and I thought they were better in the second half. "It's only half time, far from finished.
"I think there were good chances from Albirex but we stuck at it and Wardun (Yussof) made a few saves, and obviously the woodwork came to the play a few times. "Even though we were physically dead, we still tried to keep the shape of the team.
"And even at a time when we don't play particularly well, the last 60 minutes of the game... We still managed to win, and that's a good sign," continued the former Blackburn Rovers manager. On the other hand, Albirex head coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama was disappointed with the result and knows they will have to improve at the defensive end. "For the first 15 minutes, DPMM FC were very good offensively and defensively we just could not cope," said Okuyama.
"We allowed them to attack from the first half and we could not push up the defence line and gave them too much space in midfield, that's why we conceded three goals in 15 minutes. "Of course I'm not happy with today's result, but throughout the season we need to improve on our defence. As for offence, we need to score when we can and we have got strikers who can do that," he concluded.
They will contest the second leg on Friday at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.