| Fadhil Yunus |
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, who is also the Chairman of DPMM FC, yesterday joined the DPMM FC squad as well as members of club management and the backroom staff for an official team photo at the Jerudong Mini Stadium.
His Royal Highness also interacted with newly-appointed head coach Rene Weber as well as the full squad for the upcoming 2018 S League season.
DPMM FC striker Shahrazen Said will take over the captaincy this season as the 25-member squad featured a combination of youth and experience.
The club have also recently announced that newly-recruited goalkeeper Haimie anak Nyaring could be slotted straight in as first choice goalkeeper.
Also in the official team photo are the three new imports – Mojtaba Esmaeilzadeh, Volodymyr Pryyomov and Brian McLean, with Pryyomov and McLean only linking up with the team recently.
It was a familiar face with McLean who spent two seasons with the club in 2015 and played a pivotal role towards the ‘Gegar Gegar’ men title-winning pursuit. The former Hibernian defender expressed his delight on his return to the club where he made 46 league appearances.
“It is a very familiar place and it was my home here and it does feel like it’s my second home if I’m being perfectly honest,” said McLean in an interview with the Sunday Bulletin after a training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium.
“We’ve had a very successful two years and hopefully we’ll be able to replicate that kind of mentality for this season,” he said.
Since McLean left at the end of the 2016 season, there have been noticeable changes in the club with the team now entering a fresh chapter with the arrival of a new head coach as well as a host of players making their S League debut.
Asked on his thoughts of the current squad, he said, “The current squad is a very competitive one. There’s a lot of demand for every position and I can tell you from the dressing room that we have, everyone is fighting for a place in the team to be involved in the starting 11.
“It is a great bunch of lads and I know the majority of them as well, so as I’ve said, it is a very familiar place and it is good to be back,” McLean added.
McLean hoped to repay the faith the club has shown him by contributing towards having a good season during his second spell for the club.
“You always hear rumours but you never believe it until something is concrete,” said McLean who last laced up for Icelandic club IBV where he won the Iceland Cup.
“And fortunately enough, I’m thankful to the management. They have shown faith in me again this season and they have shown a lot of faith in me in 2015 and 2016.
“I had a few issues with the family in 2016 and I’m thankful for the management sticking by me through that rocky period. I’m grateful and I want to repay them with a successful season this year,” he said.
Having already tasted success in his current club colours three years ago with the league title, McLean hoped such an experience could benefit them this season.
“Hopefully we all recall the experiences and the joy that we’ve had especially in 2015. We need to put that to good use and we need to utilise that to make sure that we have a successful campaign.
“We have a new head coach and fitness coach and the freshness is always good,” said the Glaswegian who already netted five times in the league for the club as a centre-back.
“I would probably say our immediate goal is to win every match but ultimately we want to compete at the top and to do that, you need to win a majority of your games.
“If we can do that, then that will give us a fighting chance to see where it takes us.”
While McLean took to the excitement of reuniting with his new team-mates having gone through an incredible season in his first year, the former Hibernian defender, who won the Scottish Championship last term, expressed his desire to achieve more success.
“It’s always good to see the boys especially with the history that we created in the past but we need to forget about that.
“That’s done and dusted and we need to create more history for the club. Ultimately that’s our desire and we need to work hard on the training ground.
“When you already have that history with one another, the bond is a lot stronger. And as I’ve said, we need to utilise what’s happened in the past but also to focus on what’s present and trying replicate what we had achieved.”
Asked on the team’s readiness ahead of the league opener against Home United, McLean shared that they will be advancing their preparations during the tour in Bangkok, Thailand.
“We’re beginning to pick up a little bit of steam now and we’ve got a good week in Thailand coming up. We play a few games over there and make sure we’re ready when we go against Home United,” he said.