DPMM FC register perfect start in title defence

Fadhil Yunus

DPMM FC rose up to the challenge against their well-recruited rivals and title contenders after masterminding a superb 2-0 win over Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Premier League at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.

A goal each from Charlie Clough and Andrei Varankou in either side of the half gave the home side a much-needed lift in their league opener after a delayed start to the season.

The club’s young player Hanif Farhan Azman’s meteoric rise from the team that featured in the Brunei second tier last year was confirmed after he was handed his debut in the heart of midfield alongside new foreign import goalkeeper Emerson.

The visitors found the gap in between the defence with influential winger Jordan Webb racing into the box but Emerson foiled his attempt with a smart save.

Tampines’ forward Zehrudin Mehmedovic proved a tricky customer as he produced a delightful ball into the path of Boris Kopitovic who managed to get his shot only into the arms of Emerson.

The hosts took the lead after Charlie Clough planted a looping header beyond the Tampines goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari after Hendra Azam Idris had floated in an excellent delivery from a set-piece.

Varankou managed to keep down a lofted ball but Tampines defender Shannon Stephen put his body on the line to prevent him from taking a shot before the former picked out to Abdul Azizi Ali Rahman, who was denied by good goalkeeping from Syazwan.

Tampines forward Kopitovic forced another fierce strike on target from a tight angle following good work in the middle of the park from Mehmedovic.

The visitors made a response to falling behind with a double substitution as head coach Gavin Lee introduced attacking-minded duo Kyoga Nakamura and Taufik Suparno into the fray.

DPMM FC dead ball specialist Hendra produced a teasing cross into the box but tight marking from a Tampines defender ensured that Varankou could not get his header cleanly. The visitors were robbed off possession after a misplaced pass as Abdul Azizi’s attempt took a deflection for a corner with Hendra again central to the threat.

From the ensuing corner, Charlie Clough’s header across the box was nearly guided into the roof of the net from a Tampines player but only the crossbar saved them from an own goal.

The Gegar Gegar men wrapped up victory with a potential Singapore Premier League classic four minutes from time after Varankou outplayed the visiting defence through a moment of individual brilliance before following up with a low finish past the goalkeeper.

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik at the DPMM FC match yesterday
ABOVE & BELOW: DPMM FC’s Andrei Varankou dribbles the ball against Tampines Rovers players; and DPMM FC winger Azwan Ali Rahman vies for the ball against a Tampines player. PHOTOS: INFOFOTO