FFT's S.League Preview: Brunei DPMM

With an almost identical squad from their maiden S.League title-winning season, can Brunei DPMM stave off the likes of pretenders Tampines Rovers and Home United to retain their crown? 

TEAM PROFILE

Brunei DPMM 2016 S.LEAGUE SQUAD

Goalkeepers

  • Wardun Yussof
  • Azman Ilham

Defenders

  • Amalul Arrifin Shah
  • Awangku Fakharazzi
  • Reduan Petara
  • Brian McLean*
  • Abdul Aziz Tamit
  • Azwan Saleh
  • Sairol Sahari

Midfielders

  • Aminuddin Zakwan
  • Yura Indera Putera
  • Helmi Zambin
  • Maududi Hilmi
  • Rosmin Kamis
  • Hendra Azam
  • Najib Tarif
  • Azwan Ali

Forwards

  • Paulo Sergio*
  • Rafael Ramazotti*
  • Khairul Anwar
  • Adi Said
  • Shahrazen Said

* denotes foreigner 

November 21, 2015 will forever be remembered as the watershed moment in Bruneian football, with the country’s only professional football outfit Brunei DPMM winning their first ever S.League title.

Steve Kean’s side was holding a two-point lead over nearest rivals Tampines Rovers heading into the final day, with a draw likely enough for them to be crowned champions – due to their superior goal difference.

It looked like a pretty straightforward scenario except that the Wasps usually do not excel on such occasions.

In 2012, they were a point behind Tampines and needed to better their result in the final round of fixtures. They ended up losing 2-0 at home to Balestier Khalsa, while Tampines eked out a 1-0 win against Harimau Muda to lift the trophy.

Then in 2014, they were level on points with Warriors FC heading into the final day and holding the advantage due to a superior goal difference. However they cracked again – losing 2-1 to Tampines while the Warriors edged Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 to take the crown at their expense.

Thus the Wasps’ faithful certainly weren’t taking anything for granted in a similar situation last year.

There was no repeat of past disasters this time, however, as DPMM produced a masterclass against Balestier to reward the 23,000 fans that turned up at their Hassanal Bolkiah home ground.

They were 2-0 up inside the first 17 minutes, with Paulo Sergio’s cross-shot deflected home before he superbly lobbed Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam for the second.

The tie was well and truly over by halftime courtesy of Yusiskandar Yusop’s own goal. Then Brazilian hot shot Rafael Ramazotti put the icing on the cake five minutes from time by clipping home Sergio’s cutback.

Finally their dream of winning the S.League became a reality and much of the credit has to go to former Blackburn Rovers man Kean.

Taking over a sinking ship which finished eighth in the league the season (2013) before his arrival, the Scotsman wasted little time in revolutionising Bruneian football with his European-style of coaching and rigorous fitness regime.

All it took was two years to see the fruits which they have been harvesting. And after such a delightful year, there was little reason to tinker with the squad as Kean opted to retain most of the title-winning players.

The long-serving Wardun Yussoff will still be in goal, the dependable Sairol Sahari will still play the roving left-back role, the evergreen Rosmin Kamis will continue to lead with his no-nonsense style in the middle of the park and the electric Azwan Ali will be back again to terrorise opposition defences.

While the new three-foreigner rule meant Boris Raspudic and Joe Gamble had to be culled, Scottish centre-back Brian McLean has been retained along with the two forwards Sergio and Ramazotti.

The sizzling strike partnership of Sergio and Ramazotti was key to DPMM’s success last term, with the duo combining for 34 out of their 48 league goals.

All in all, it looks like a stable squad which should be able to challenge for honours again if they perform to their full potential. The familiarity amongst the players is an added advantage for them compared to teams which have undergone massive renewal, like Tampines and Hougang United.

Will that factor alone help them become only the third side (after Warriors FC and Tampines) to retain the S.League title? 

FFT'S S.LEAGUE PREDICTION: 3rd

Will challenge with good crop of players, but have to guard against complacency.

KEEP CLICKING BELOW FOR OUR COMPREHENSIVE DPMM PREVIEW

COACH CORNER – Steve Kean

They are reigning S.League champions, but Kean is targeting much more in 2016.

Read all about it right here.

STAR MAN – Rosmin Kamis

The captain was generous in his praise of coach Steve Kean and revealed Aleksandar Duric is one of his role models because of his staying power at top level.

For more about one of DPMM's key men, click here.

VIEW FROM THE FANS

Fresh from seeing his side sweep to an unprecedented title, this fan is targeting a clean sweep of all domestic trophies this year. Read about his hopes for 2016 here.

YOUNG GUN – Aminuddin Zakwan

It's not every time your maiden season as a professional footballer coincide with a title-winning year, but Aminuddin Zakwan's breakthrough came alongside DPMM's historic win in 2015.

Hungry for more, read about the 21-year-old's expectations for the new season right here.

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