DPMM FC's slide into obscurity last season surprised many, but the team from Brunei will be determined to do better this year.
What Happened Last Season?
Brunei’s sole professional club were largely expected to build on their league runners-up finish and League Cup success in 2012 under former head coach Vjeran Simunic, but fell way short of expectations. They endured a very difficult start to the campaign, culminating in the abrupt dismissal of three new imports, including Croatian 2006 World Cup striker Ivan Bosnjak. As their season disintegrated with chances of major honours all but nonexistant, crowds began to dwindle at home as they eventually limped into eighth place in the final league standings.
BRUNEI DPMM FC
Home ground: Stadium Hassanal Bolkiah National, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darulssalam
Last Season: 8th place
League Cup: Runners-up
Singapore Cup: Quarter-finalists
DPMM FC have retained the local core of the side, including skipper Rosmin Kamis, Shahrazen Said and Wardun Yussof, although veteran defender Pg Sallehuddin Damit has hung up his boots after more than two decades of active service. As was the case in 2013, the club have changed their import roster bar one as they look to their new foreign mercenaries to boost the overall standard of play. It will be interesting to see whether the English Premier League experience of new gaffer Steve Kean will have an impact in improving the team’s overall standing in the league.
Their local starters have vast experience competing against the best in Singapore, and previously in Malaysia, and are adaptable in various tactical strategies having been through several coaches in the past decade. Teamwork, commitment and communication will not be a doubt among Bruneians who have been playing alongside one another for the past few seasons.
The likes of Wardun, Rosmin and Sairol are now entering into their early thirties and fresh young blood such as Adi Said, Hendra Azam and Najib Tarif have only a season’s worth of experience behind them. While Simunic’s emphasis was to groom young Bruneians for the future when the imports were underperforming, it remains to be seen whether Kean is willing to give the upstarts more playing time. Otherwise, a thin and inexperienced bench could prove to be the team’s undoing when suspensions and injuries rack up during the season.
Did you know?
DPMM FC foreign imports Joseph Gamble and Roy O'Donovan reunite for a second time following a brief spell together at English lower division side Hartlepool United. The fellow Irishmen began their professional careers at League of Ireland side Cork City.
The Boss – Steve Kean
The highest profile head coach in the league’s 19-year history, 46-year-old Kean brings top-level experience to the team, having previously led Blackburn Rovers in the English Premiership and also served as assistant to current Wales manager Chris Coleman with high-profile English and Spanish clubs. More comfortable on the training ground, it will be worth noting whether the Scottish head coach's undoubted coaching talents and experience can push the Sultanate’s sole professional football club back into the forefront of S.League football as a leading title contender this season.
Players to Watch
- Roy O’ Donovan
The 28-year-old Irishman is signed as the club’s marquee player for this season and expectations are high for him to deliver the goods up front alongside local star Shahrazen Said. Comfortable as the target man or wide winger, his know-how up front in the lower tiers of English football could put him in good stead against foreign defenders in Singapore.
- Azwan Saleh
Already established as a regular in the team, the 26-year-old local serves as the focal link between the old guard and the incoming new generation and is poised to be the new skipper when current captain Rosmin Kamis eventually calls it a day. Saleh is versatile across all positions in midfield and comfortable playing as a full-back, which makes him a very useful utility player for the team. His set-piece deliveries also provide a tactical weapon for DPMM in their attacking play.
- Rodrigo Tosi
The fan-favourite might have put on some weight upon his return to DPMM FC for a second spell in the middle of last season, but his first touch and vision remain impeccable and serve as a reminder why the 31-year-old was such a hit in his first stint at the club. The Bruneians will be looking to the Brazilian playmaker to pull the strings in the final third and deliver on both set pieces and open play situations.
Gary’s 2014 S.League Prediction: 3rd