Caption: Two-time reigning S.League topscorer Rafael Ramazotti (C) in action during a training session yesterday at the Jerudong Mini Stadium. Picture: Yee Chun Leong
Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
DPMM FC are looking to kick off their S.League season strongly when they host Home United FC at 8.15pm tonight at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
The Brunei side were off to a slow start last season - winning only one out of their first four games - after not getting any competitive games during the preseason.
This year they travelled to Thailand in January to contest in four matches which all ended in draws.
They had matching 2-2 draws against Navy FC, Rayong FC and Chainat FC respectively before ending their tour with a 1-1 stalemate against Kasetsart FC.
The 2015 S.League champions have released the duo of Portuguese playmaker Paulo Sergio and Northern Irish defender Brian McLean and acquired the services of striker Billy Mehmet from Tampines Rovers FC and former FC Le Mont defender Francois Marque to replace them.
DPMM FC coach Steve Kean felt that they are a better squad this year and are fully ready for the encounter.
‘”Overall the whole squad is better, not detrimental to Brian McLean and Paulo Sergio. The local players have improved and the new players have added a different dynamic,” said Kean after a training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium yesterday.
“Last year we had a terrible preseason with no competitive games. But this year we went to Thailand and came back unbeaten.
“The new import players have settled in very quickly and I feel we are at a much better level than we were probably even two years ago.,” he added.
“We got no excuses now and can't moan about preseason or none competitive games. Credit to the club as they paid money to take us to Thailand to play those games.
“We can't complain and have to deliver the results. We are ready and can't wait for the season to start.
”If we can play to anywhere close to our level then we won't have any problems for the season,” continued the Scotsman.
Caption: New signing Billy Mehmet (C) takes a shot at goal during a training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium yesterday. Picture: Yee Chun Leong
When asked on what to watch out for against the Protectors, Kean replied: “What they do really well is switch play. They get the ball down one side and move to midfield and then switch it.
“They move teams around. The biggest aspect of their game is that they play really open and switch a lot. They create a lot of space and technically they are confident on the ball,” added the former Blackburn Rovers manager.
Home United are in high spirits after coming off a 6-1 thrashing of the Garena Young Lions (Singapore national under-22 football team) at the Bishan Stadium on Monday.
New signing Stipe Plazibat from Hougang United FC got on the scoresheet four times in the triumph.
However, Home United coach Aidil Shahrin felt that there is no time to dwell and is focused on the task ahead.
“When you win, you always feel confident and good but that is already in the past. We have to respect DPMM FC. We want to give our best to win,” said Aidil in an interview with BruSports yesterday when met.
“I think DPMM FC are eager because it is their first game. Both teams will be fighting for good points,” he added.
When asked on what to expect from the match, Aidil replied: “DPMM FC will play the same style because they got similar players compared to last year.
“The only changes is with the additions of Billy Mehmet and the French defender (Marque). The locals are more or less the same,” he added.
“The system is there and we expect them to go with the long ball to Ramazotti and Mehmet with the height that they have.
“This is where we have to plan to stop them and we expect a good game,” concluded Aidil.
Despite all the fire power up front for DPMM FC, there will be no easy task to find the back of the net as the Protectors have Singapore No 1 goalkeeper and 2014 S.League Player of the Year Hassan Sunny in between the sticks.
He plied his trade with Army United in the Thailand’s top league over the past two seasons before returning home.
The other game tonight will see Tampines Rovers FC up against Hougang United FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.