DPMM FC welcome Hougang United in first home game
| Jake Ten |
DPMM FC welcome Hougang United FC to the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium tonight in their first home game of the 2013 Great Eastern Yeo’s S League season, coming off the back of a respectable 0-0 draw with Home United just a week ago.
The S League runners-up recorded back-to-back wins against the Cheetahs last season, but despite a 5-1 demolition in the corresponding fixture last year, DPMM FC head coach, Vjeran Simunic, is taking nothing for granted against Alex Weaver’s charges tonight.
“They have four very good foreign players, so we have to make sure we don’t make the same mistake as Warriors FC did last night. Warriors FC lost 6-1 because they thought Tanjong Pagar were the same side as last year, but all the teams this year have changed,” remarked Simunic.
“I’ll be satisfied with any victory tomorrow because we are still trying to coordinate as a team. We’ve only played one game together as a team, so after the game against Home, I now know how we are looking; what is good, what isn’t good and what we need to improve,” he continued.
With the addition of four new faces, the Croatian has pleaded with fans to give his side time to gel, only then can DPMM FC’s full potential be realised.
“The imports need time. A lot of them didn’t have clubs last year, so it’s very hard for four new players to incorporate themselves into DPMM FC, who are already a good team,” explained the 57-year old, before firing a warning across to his new recruits.
“I have players on the bench who deserve to play, like Helmi and Adi, but cannot in this current situation. In the future, the best players will play, even if it means putting the import players on the bench,” declared Simunic.
Hougang United started their season with a far from convincing 1-0 win against Courts Young Lions last week, but the Mikasa Coach of the Year winner knows better than anybody else that the Cheetahs are more than capable of producing an upset where least expected.
“Hougang beat Tampines in both games last season, and didn’t lose to Home or SAF, but DPMM FC, we beat them twice,” said the DPMM FC head coach.
“Hougang were a mid-table team last season, but produced some surprise results against big teams, except DPMM FC. But, they have six new players, so tomorrow is a new game. We also have a new team, four new players, so it depends. I am always optimistic. I am a coach that takes it game by game.
Simunic’s opposite number, Alex Weaver, who replaced Nenad Bacina at the Hougang United FC helm in the off-season, knows he will have to draw on all his years of coaching experience to come away from the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium with a result.
Alex, 36, received his first coaching badges at the age of 17, and has since taken up the position of Coaching Director at a premier youth club in the US, managed the Seattle Wolves and worked at the Stoke City FC academy.
However, Weaver’s six years spent with Manchester United in the Soccer Schools Department, working under the likes of Rene Muelensteen and Brian McClough, are the ones that have molded him into the coach that he is today.
“It was a fantastic learning experience working for Manchester United. The whole working environment was extremely professional. Everywhere you go, you wear the Manchester United shirt and you’re expected to adhere to those high standards,” recalled the Cheetahs head coach.
Despite being brought up playing such a direct form of football in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, Weaver explained that he always had a different idea of how he felt that the beautiful game should be played.
“I was brought up with the old fashioned English style of football, and I was always the kind of player that didn’t like having the ball shelled over to my head. I wanted it into my feet or into space. Even at that young age I wanted to play a bit differently, but I didn’t get that chance,” said the Cheetahs head coach.
“My coaching, when I started to make the most of it in my early 20s, was very much influenced by those early experiences, and I coach now how I wanted to be coached when I was younger,” he added.
“It’s based around teaching technique, and teaching players to have excellent mastery of the ball. I based my coaching around trying to get players that are technically very, very good. When you come into the professional environment, you’re working with players that have already gone through so many years of experience, and they’re kind of already molded into something.”
“ But if you look at our players right now, I really like those core central players, the likes of Diallo, the likes of Azhar, who are very good technical players. I also understand and appreciate the modern game, and the needs and the demand for a player like Gareth Bale, who is just an awesome specimen.”
“If you see the players we have now, with the likes of Robert and Liam, I’ve tried to mix the two styles together, where we have strength and pace in key areas, but we’ve also got good technical players.”
The Englishman was relieved to see his side emerge from a sketchy encounter with Courts Young Lions with a 1-0 win last week, but was encouraged by the way in which they got the result.
“We played against Courts Young Lions and things didn’t really go to plan. We didn’t play to our strengths, or rather, we didn’t play to our potential,” observed Alex.
“The way that the players got the result without really playing too well is a very positive aspect, and that’s something that you can’t really work on in training. It comes from a lot of reinforcement in terms of attitude and effort and application, and it’s through experiencing games like that and grinding out results, that’s one of the positive things that people talk about with Sir Alex Ferguson,” he added.
Whilst Simunic claims to know little of his Hougang counterpart, Alex Weaver has certainly done his home work and knows the kind of animal he is dealing with in the form of DPMM FC.