Brunei DPMM vs. Tampines Rovers: Will the real title contenders please stand up?

S.League | Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium | Sat 19 Mar | 8:15 PM 

Billed As:

A chance to separate the title contenders and the pretenders

The lowdown:

After having a week off, Brunei DPMM will have fresher legs against a Tampines Rovers side which just played on Tuesday in the AFC Cup.

DPMM form

  • DPMM 2 – 1 Home United (S.League)
  • Hougang United 0 – 0 DPMM (S.League)
  • DPMM 3 – 1 Warriors (S.League)
  • Geylang International 1 – 1 DPMM (S.League)
  • Albirex Niigata S 3 – 2 DPMM (S.League)
 

Tampines form

  • Tampines Rovers 1 – 1 Ceres (AFC Cup)
  • Selangor 0 – 1 Tampines Rovers (AFC Cup)
  • Home United 1 – 1 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
  • Tampines Rovers 4 – 1 Hougang United (S.League)
  • Tampines Rovers 4 – 0 Sheikh Jamal (AFC Cup)
 

The Wasps will be raring to go against V.Sundramoorthy’s men, where ideally a win would boost confidence levels and propel DPMM forward after a bumpy start to the season so far.

Kean’s men have won two of their first five games (2W,2D,1L), which is a far cry from a terrific form of four wins out of their first five games last year (4W,1L).

Even against Home United the only side yet to win a game this season last week at Brunei, the Wasps were forced to come from a goal down to secure three points.

Tampines on the other hand will be travelling to Brunei to play their fourth game of the league campaign after settling for a draw against Ceres La Salle in the AFC Cup.

The Stags conceded a goal in the dying minutes through Spaniard Adrian Gallardo, who capitalised on a lapse in concentration by the Tampines defence and scored to give the Philippine champions a 1-1 draw.

Sundram would have drilled into his defenders to make sure that the same lapses doesn’t come back to haunt them at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium.

Team News:

Apart from South Korean Kwon Jun, who is not registered to play in the S-League for the Stags, Tampines should have their best XI available for this game.

The same can be said for Brunei DPMM too.

Last season’s top scorer Rafael Ramazotti and in-form winger Azwan Ali will have a sterner test against former Lions XII players Izwan Mahbud and Afiq Yunos.

The entertaining triumvirate of Billy Mehmet, Jordan Webb and Jermaine Pennant will be looking forward to causing custodian Wardun Yussof and veteran Northern Ireland defender Brian McLean some trouble.

Key Battle: Rafael Ramazotti vs Izwan Mahbud

Ramazotti steered Brunei to their title last season with a whopping 21 goals.

However on Saturday, he will face Izwan Mahbud standing in between the sticks.

Ramazotti will be an aerial threat. Photo: S.League

The latter had a commendable season last year in Malaysia for the Lions XII and performances against the likes of Japan during national duty attracted tremendous attention from the J-League, and a certain David Moyes, who was the manager of Real Sociedad at that time.

Izwan, however, has to be aware of the aerial threat that the Brazilian possesses.

The tallest striker in the league – standing at 1.93 metres will certainly be eager to take advantage of the Singaporean goalie’s lack of height (1.79m).

The Coaches:

Past five meeting

  • DPMM FC 0 – 1 Tampines Rovers (S.League, Oct '15)
  • Tampines Rovers 1 – 0 DPMM FC (Singapore Cup, Aug '15)
  • DPMM FC 3 – 1 Tampines Rovers (Singapore Cup, Aug '15)
  • Tampines 1 – 1 DPMM FC (S.League, Aug '15)
  • DPMM FC 2 – 0 Tampines Rovers (S.League, May '15)
 

After a lacklustre first half against Ceres La Salle in which Sundram decided to use five at the back, he changed it up with a five-man midfield instead.

This helped create more chances and eventually led to a goal in the 69th minute.

Sundram definitely has a plethora of choices at his disposal with the squad depth looking healthy, evident from how Mehmet and Pennant did not even feature against Selangor when he opted to use a more industrious looking team instead.

The Dazzler has also had the better of former Blackburn Rovers manager Kean in recent times – winning his previous two games with a 1-0 scoreline in the league and Singapore Cup respectively, and he will be hoping that the streak continues.

After the defeat to Albirex for the opening match of the season, Kean pointed to the lack of pre-season preparations as part of the reason for the Charity Shield loss.

The situation does not seem to have improved as DPMM has picked up seven points out of a possible 15.

One thing is for certain though, both managers have some of the best attacking players in the leagues and will be hoping that their strikers and wingers find the back of the net, come Saturday.

 

Facts and Figures:

  •        The trio of Rafael Ramazotti, Jermaine Pennant, Azwan Ali have two goals each in this campaign.
  •        The Stags are only one of the three remaining teams yet to suffer defeat this campaign (Albirex Niigata (S) and Geylang the other two.
  •        Sundram has won the last two outings against Brunei but his overall record against Kean is – 2W, 1D and 2L).
  •        Tampines have scored in all their games this season in all competition while DPMM failed to score against just one (Hougang United).
  •        Former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Pennant has scored both his goals this season from free-kicks.

FourFourTwo prediction:

DPMM 2-3 Tampines. With names like Mehmet, Pennant, Webb, Ramazotti and Azwan, this game points to a high scoring affair.

Main Photo: Weixiang Lim / FFT