Brunei DPMM coach Steve Kean has urged his men not to lose focus and throw away their chances of winning the S. League on Friday night, as they aim to take down Tampines Rovers.
Currently edging out Warriors FC at the top of the table due to a superior goal difference of +17, a victory for DPMM should be enough to secure them their first ever S.League title – regardless of the result in the concurrent game between their direct rivals and Albirex Niigata (Singapore).
Final day anxiety is certainly no stranger to Kean, who was formerly in charge of English side Blackburn Rovers. Back in his first season at Ewood Park, the Scot led the Rovers to a 3-2 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers to escape relegation to the Championship at the end of the 2010-11 season.
With that experience in mind, Kean has instructed his coaching staff and players not to be distracted by proceedings elsewhere, banning live updates of the Warriors’ progress at Choa Chu Kang.
“We’re going to treat it as if it’s not taking place,” he told FourFourTwo on Thursday evening, after his team’s final pre-match training session at Jalan Besar Stadium.
“I’ve been in this position before, not to win a title but to stay in the Premier League. We [Blackburn] had to beat Wolves at Molineux to stay up and we beat them well.
“Thus I’ve told them not to even attempt to keep any type of radio or iPhone on them; I don’t want any information until the end of the game.
“Such things can become a distraction which can change the players’ mind sets and the atmosphere on the pitch. You just got to go out there and do your own thing.”
The Wasps have emerged from a poor run of form, after not won their last six games or kept a clean sheet in their last nine games prior to Tuesday's 1-0 victory against Albirex. Kean was satisfied that they managed to put things right when the crunch time came.
“It has not been team problems, but more down to individual mistakes,” he pointed out.
“We had some problems dealing with counter attacks; that probably came from fatigue and not concentrating at key times. That’s what I told the defenders last night – don’t take your focus off at any time.
“I’m not asking you to do a Cruyff turn or pass with the outside of your foot, just keep the defending simple. I gave them a lot of stick for the past few games and they have done well since, thus all credit to them.”
Kean has emphasised the simulation of game situations for his reserve players since taking over DPMM, and he believes that will stand them in good stead for games like this in which Roy O’Donovan, Azwan Ali and Abdul Aziz Tamit are all suspended.
“I revised positions, the defensive side and their attacking patterns with those who hadn’t played [on Tuesday],” the coach shared.
“Thus it won’t be a strange environment because they’ve practised all season to come on in to a game which they are not expected to start.
“Of course they [the replacements] have to step up, but we’ve got to look at it this way – we have three fresh players and they will have more energy in the latter stages [of the game].”
Despite not beating the Stags in both head-to-head meetings this term, Kean believes it will have little physiological effect on his players.
“It doesn’t matter at this stage whether we have beaten them before,” the 46-year-old said.
“I’ll be very surprised if the Tampines that beat us earlier on in the season is the very same team now, and the same applies for my team. Sometimes you can look at raw stats and trends, but I won’t really read much into that.
“We’ve the championship to play for, whereas they are not going for it and can afford to relax.”
Image Credit: Alson Ong/Football Association of Singaporecomments