Brunei DPMM vs Ceres La Salle: League champions meet for first time
A showdown between the top dogs in last season’s Singaporean and Filipino leagues.
- 24/06/16 Balestier Khalsa 1-4 DPMM (S.League)
- 19/06/16 Garena Young Lions 1-1 DPMM (S.League)
- 11/06/16 Tampines Rovers 4-3 DPMM (S.League)
- 19/05/16 Home United 5-0 DPMM (S.League)
- 14/05/16 DPMM 3-2 Hougang United (S.League)
- 25/06/16 Stallion FC 1-4 Ceres (UFL)
- 18/06/16 Ceres 4-2 JP Voltes FC (UFL)
- 15/06/16 Forza FC 0-10 Ceres (UFL)
- 11/06/16 Pasargad FC 0-16 Ceres (UFL)
- 29/05/16 Garena Young Lions 1-1 (1-3 A.E.T) Ceres (SG Cup)
Second runners-up in the last two Singapore Cups, Brunei DPMM will be chomping at the bit to contest their first-ever final when they kick-start their campaign against their Filipino counterparts.
The competition also provides a clean slate for them to launch an attack on silverware this season, with their floundering league displays making it highly unlikely they will be able to retain the S.League crown they won for the first time last year.
The Wasps have won just twice in their last eight games but they have at least improved since the international break ended. A 4-1 hammering of Balestier Khalsa last time out was probably one of their best displays in recent memory and should have given them a massive confidence boost ahead of this tie.
Ceres La Salle, on the other hand, have fared much better results-wise. Last season’s United Football League (UFL) triumph was the first in the club’s four-year history and saw them qualify for the AFC Cup, where they topped Group E without losing a single game. Only a 1-0 loss to South China in extra time saw them gallantly bow out in the round of 16 in their first continental foray.
The Busmen head to Singapore on the back of a six-game winning streak in the league that places them second behind Global FC, who have won all seven matches.
They did need extra time to dispatch the Garena Young Lions in the previous round to get to this stage and will need to do better than that here.
However, the fact that Tampines took only one point off them in the AFC Cup illustrates that they cannot be dismissed easily, particularly with eight Azkals in their ranks.
Midfield duo Hendra Azam and Paulo Sergio are suspended, with the latter certain to be a keenly-felt absence for DPMM. This should see Shahrazen Said being handed a rare start.
Ceres are expected to be at full strength with the exception of 36-year-old defender Juan Luis Guirado, who announced his retirement earlier this month.
Key Battle: Rafael Ramazotti vs Kim Sang Min
Without partner-in-crime Sergio, the onus will fall on Rafael Ramazotti to lead the way from the front for DPMM.
Towering at almost two metres, the Brazilian is almost unbeatable in the air when provided the right service. However, there is more to the 27-year-old’s game as he is excellent at holding up play and setting up his team-mates, as evidenced by his five assists.
With six goals in his last three games, Ramazotti is in fine form and will be confident of scoring in a fourth consecutive match to add to his tally of 12 so far.
Centre-back and captain Kim Sang-min is likely to shoulder the task of stopping Ramazotti. The 27-year-old had experience in the lower Korean leagues before moving to Cambodia’s NagaCorp FC, which he joined Ceres from in 2014.
Kim has established himself as a key member of the Ceres set-up and his command of the back-line, in addition to marshalling Ramazotti, will be vital to their chances of progress.
Steve Kean has deployed a back-three in recent DPMM games and should stick with the same formation here. The Scot will have to compensate for Sergio’s absence and playmaking duties will largely fall on the mercurial Azwan Ali.
His counterpart, Ali Go, has already stated that Ceres will not be overawed by DPMM and with the services of several Azkals stars like Stephan Schröck, Manuel Ott and Patrick Reichelt, the former Filipino international has good reason to be optimistic.
Facts and Figures
DPMM have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 games.
They have not won any of their last eight games in Singapore, including all seven away matches this season.
The only Filipino club they have played is Global FC. In 2013, they lost 5-4 on aggregate in the Cup quarter-finals, but avenged that with a 7-0 win in 2014’s preliminary round. The fourth encounter took place last year in the third-place playoff, which DPMM won 3-1.
Ceres have scored a staggering 52 goals in their seven UFL games this season. Kaya FC is second with 47.
Schröck has scored for six games running, tallying 13 goals.
This looks like it could be a cracking game with goals to boot. 2-2.