| Fadhil Yunus |
TWO poorly conceded goals from a succession of corners brought high-flying Brunei DPMM FC crashing down to earth in a 2-1 home loss to Home United at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium last night.
On a night where Home United could wave adieu to the title, they showed the appetite to not only lift their hopes of a title but to move on with renewed confidence.
They are still behind the chasing pack but there is an element of irony if they do ruin the chances of other title contenders.
After a performance like this, this is a reality check for DPMM FC with head coach Steve Kean said that this was an expensive wake-up call if they were to think the job is done.
Unlike Home’s previous visit to the Brunei capital months ago, defending the way they did in the back garden was not champion material. There is no margin for error now and the team simply need four wins on the bounce if they were to realise the dream of the club or the nation.
The difficulty of a game that could put their rivals to the brink were felt early on as Home frustrated the league leaders to limited opportunities.
Roberto Alviz did well not to rush his shot, slicing a pass to Adi Said and the HBT star had to adjust his body to swerve a good effort which the keeper had no trouble saving.
Adi Said cleverly enticed defender Juma’at Jantan, the man Steve Kean pointed as a key figure behind their difficulty of breaking their system, for a foul. Azwan Ali let fly a free-kick that the defence managed to clear for a corner.
Meeting a lofted ball forward, Adi Said’s sublime control in mid-air gave him the platform to turn and strike low but though expertly created was comfortably gathered by an alert Shahril Jantan.
Qiu Li produced a stern warning with a clean strike that goalkeeper Wardun Yussof was happily enough to see it travel wide.
Fans vented their fury to the referee when Sirina Camara appeared to be too physical to a floored Adi. Only moments later soon after Adi got back to his feet, the striker nearly capitalised on Shahril’s aimless kick. However, the keeper recovered to parry the ball away for a corner.
Qiu Li, the man who was instrumental in their last victory here, came close again but Wardun was equal to the task.
DPMM FC shifted a gear after the interval as Gamble traded his midfield duties with a dose of striker’s touches and came agonisingly close for the night’s first goal.
Azwan Salleh’s marauding run was greeted with echoes of excitement and his shot was not bad either considering the distance he had covered.
Alviz then took a shot first time but crawled harmlessly away from Shahril’s goal as the hosts wondered whether the opening goal would arrive.
Rodrigo Tosi was found largely missing all game but what was the hosts exactly needed at the right time and place when he steered home Azwan Salleh’s teasing delivery.
The goal sparked jubilant scenes and the return of WWE’s Superstar Daniel Bryan’s signature celebrations. Then, madness unfolded on the other end as the home crowd was silenced from a lapse of concentration.
Sirina Camara’s corner missed every red and black shirt but an unguarded Song Inyoung powerfully nodded home the leveller three minutes after falling behind against a team rightfully on top.
Although it was understandably a setback, this should awaken the team to come out and attack and defend rigidly than they did for a split second. They were undone again and this time it was Kwon Dakyung who was the beneficiary of poor defending that cost a valuable point never mind all three.
“The disappointing thing is we lose to two identical goals from very basic set plays,” said a disappointed Kean.