DPMM FC lifted aloft the AIA Singapore Premier League title as they celebrated being crowned champions amid joyous scenes witnessed by 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 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
Also in attendance were Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman, His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik, Yang Teramat Mulia Pengiran Muda ‘Abdul Muntaqim, Yang Teramat Mulia Pengiran Anak Muneerah Madhul Bolkiah and Yang Teramat Mulia Pengiran Muda Muhammad Aiman.
The Gegar Gegar men sealed the league title with a gap of six points ahead of second-placed Tampines Rovers, who beat the champions recently in their only home loss this season.
The Brunei-based outfit completed their final league match of the season with a thrilling 5-4 win against Hougang United, who finished third, yesterday.
They raced to a 2-0 lead courtesy of a headed brace by the in-form Andrei Varankou, who is confirmed as the league’s top scorer for the 2019 season with 21 goals.
Shahfiq Ghani handed Hougang a lifeline with his goal in the 56th minute.
DPMM FC substitute Adi Said made it 3-1 but Shahfiq halved the deficit for a second time with his brace before completing his hat-trick and his side’s fightback with a penalty.
But, Adi turned the game on its head again after he belted a stunner eight minutes from time in what appeared to be another thriller of a contest at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.
DPMM FC fullback Awangku Fakharrazi provided the ecstatic crowd another cause for celebration with his side’s fifth goal of the game.
The scoring was not done however, until Hougang netted a late consolation as Fazrul Nawaz fired home from close range deep into injury time.
From the backline of seasoned veteran Wardun Yussof to the attacking front led by Andrei Varankou, players proudly paraded the trophy in high spirits after they accomplished the feat for a second time in their history, having first won the championship in 2015.
Under the reign of head coach Adrian Pennock and the captaincy of Wardun Yussof, the Gegar Gegar men only lost four times this term.
Chants of ‘Ole, Ole, Ole’ were heard at the stadium in anticipation of wild scenes in the final minutes of the match.
After the final whistle, the management gathered together and jumped for joy as both teams’ coaches Adrian Pennock and Clement Teo shared a warm embrace.
The champions started the party mood when Andrei Varankou planted a clinical header in the seventh minute after connecting from a Najib Tarif’s inch-perfect delivery.
The hosts were denied by the post twice in a matter of seconds with Azwan Ali Rahman’s cross and Abdul Azizi Ali Rahman coming close in doubling their side’s lead.
Varankou netted his second goal of the game with a bullet header after he was set up by the tireless Abdul Azizi.
Hougang managed to get a shot on target as Farhan Zulkifli curved his effort beautifully but the ball was calmly collected by Wardun.
The hosts fashioned a good chance to extend their two-goal lead as Najib produced an appetising cross into the box but Azwan Ali struck his volley wide off the post.
The Cheetahs pulled one back after Shahfiq Ghani unleashed a screamer from distance.
But, the hosts restored their two-goal advantage after substitute Adi Said latched on to a fine pass from Varankou which Ridhuan could not keep out.
The visitors reduced the deficit just four minutes later after Shahfiq drilled home a low effort. He grabbed his hat-trick after converting a penalty.
However, Hougang were unlucky after Ridhuan unforgivingly conceded possession straight into the feet of Adi Said who punished the goalkeeper with a powerful strike.
Awangku Fakharazzi got into the score-sheet after his effort took a deflection off a Hougang player.
DPMM FC head coach Adrian Pennock has attributed togetherness and the unity within the team to the success of the club.
“I believe in the togetherness of the squad. We’ve got a fantastic and a very good squad. They’ve worked very hard for each other but this is a very special club,” said Pennock in a pre-match interview.