DPMM FC tackle Home United today
| Jake Ten |
IT’S that time of year that every football fan in the Sultanate has been waiting for – the start of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S League season.
DPMM FC will be taking to the field at the Bishun Stadium tonight to tackle Home United in their S League curtain-raiser.
Since last year’s anti-climactic end to the season in November, surrendering the title to Tampines Rovers after a 2-0 defeat to Balestier Khalsa on home soil, DPMM FC have lost the likes of influential midfielder, Ivan Jerkovic, winger Basiru Osman and frontman Patrick da Silva.
However, the additions of Joao Vitor Rocha De Carvalho Moreira, Stephane Auvray, Dino Drpic and Ivan Bosnjak have breathed new life into a squad which will once again be looking to lift that elusive first S League trophy.
DPMM FC’s title charge will be led by the league’s very own ‘Special One’, Vjeran Simunic, who has brought the clubs on leaps and bounds since taking over the reins in 2008. The Croatian tactician’s first task for 2013, however, will be by no means an easy one.
“We know Home United is hungry to win the league this year. They came close last year and two years ago. Every year they want to win the league and have spent a lot of money,” observed Simunic after the club’s signing ceremony on Tuesday.
Home has done some major reshuffling, with only 5 players being retained from last season. Shi Jiayi and Frederic Mendy have both departed for greener pastures, but in their place come a couple of proven campaigners in the form of Ismail Yunos and Sevki Sha’ban.
However, the talk of the town has of course been marquee signing Lee Kwan-Woo, an attacking midfielder who has been capped 13 times for his native South Korea, finding the back of the net on one occasion.
“All the media have now labelled Home (United) as the top team in the league, followed by Tampines (Rovers) and SAF (Warriors FC),” remarked the DPMM FC head coach.
“Nobody speaks about DPMM FC, so we are always here to spoil the plans of the bigger teams in Singapore. Myself and my players are always eager to challenge, improve and to be on top, but I will be very happy if we repeat our feats last season,” he added.
“We always have very high expectations for the season. We are under pressure (to perform) because we are at the top. We won the S.League Cup last season and I won the MIKASA Coach of the Year award in a league which is one of the best in the region, so we have something to defend.”
A welcoming sight at Tuesday’s signing ceremony was defender Tales dos Santos. Despite spending three months in Brazil recuperating from a knee injury which ended his season prematurely in 2012, the 28-year old revealed that he still needs a bit more time to regain his match fitness.
“I need five weeks to get back my fitness and confidence,” said Tales.
“I started training on Monday and I felt very good.”
Despite his injury setback, the Brazilian’s aspirations for the season have not been dented.
“I want to win the S League and Singapore Cup this season because they are trophies which we haven’t won, but we will also be fighting for the Singapore League Cup,” declared Santos.
Meanwhile, star striker, Shahrazen Said, will be looking to carry his goal-scoring form from last year into the new season, but hopes that his new teammates will be able to shoulder some of that responsibility.
“It’s going to be hard to adapt (to the new players) because there is still a bit of individuality going on, but after the first one or two games, we will have a better idea of each other’s playing styles,” said Shahrazen.
“The team is better than last season, so I hope that they can add some goals. But whether I score or they score, the important thing is that we win,” he added.
“Of course the S League is our priority, but we will also be targeting the RHB Singapore Cup. We want to be champions, but we know it isn’t easy.”