Caption: Billy Mehmet (L) in an aerial battle against Home United FC last night. Picture: Yee Chun Leong
Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
DPMM FC kicked off their 2017 S.League campaign on the wrong foot after falling 3-1 to Home United FC last night.
Stipe Plazibat found the back of the net twice in the opening half to give the visitors a two-goal lead at halftime.
Rafael Ramazotti gave DPMM FC a lifeline after the interval but Faris Ramli added a third for the Protectors to seal all three points at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
The hosts almost had the perfect start after Azwan Ali Rahman made his way into the box in the opening minute but his shot was kept out by Home United shotstopper Hassan Sunny.
Home United were awarded a penalty in the eighth minute after Khairul Nizam was tripped by French defender Francois Marque inside the box.
Plazibat stepped up to score the spot kick to put the visitors in front.
DPMM FC were forced to make a change just half an hour into the game after Marque picked up an injury and couldn’t continue resulting in Ak Yura Indera Putera Pg Yunos coming on in his place.
Moments later, Reduan Hj Petara placed his header on target but Hassan was there for the save.
The Protectors doubled their advantage in the 37th minute after Song Uiyong sent a good through ball for Plazibat, who skipped past an onrushing DPMM FC custodian Wardun Yussof, to put the ball into an empty net.
DPMM FC sent on brothers Shahrazen and Adi Said after the interval in place of defenders Reduan and Najib Hj Tarif - shifting midfielders Maududi Hilmi Kasmi and Azwan Saleh to defensive roles.
Shahrazen got in on the action straight away as he got a shot away from inside the box but the Home United shotstopper denied him.
DPMM FC piled on the pressure and it finally paid off just before the hour mark with Ramazotti heading home Md Hendra Azam Md Idris’ corner.
The shots should have levelled nine minutes later with Billy Mehmet sending his header into the bottom right corner but Hassan went full stretch to keep his effort out.
Despite being on top for much of the second half, DPMM FC were undone in the 76th minute with Faris firing home at the far post to give his side maximum points.
Caption: Azwan Ali Rahman (L) being chased by Juma'at Jantan of Home United FC during their S.League match. Picture: Yee Chun Leong
DPMM FC still got plenty of work to do
“I'm not looking forward to seeing the statistics. I can count in my mind that we had seven or eight shots on target and we only got one goal. I think they had five on target and end up with three goals,” said DPMM FC coach Steve Kean during a post match conference.
“Statistically we need to be much better and be more ruthless in their box and also to defend our box.
“Ultimately that is what football is about - the two 18-yard boxes. Tonight (Friday night) the chances we had, we didn't put it right in the corner and when they had chances, we didn't defend them properly,” added the Scotsman.
DPMM FC changed to playing four up front while chasing the game by sending on brothers Shahrazen and Adi Said to start the second half.
The game changed in their favour and put Home United under plenty of pressure but Kean felt that they had too much to do after conceding the third.
“Credit to the players as we had a good go in the second half. I think there was a dramatic improvement when we changed the system and chased the game,” said the former Blackburn Rovers manager.
“But when the third goal went in, we left ourselves a lot to do then,” he added.
Kean also praised Hassan Sunny, the 2014 S.League Player of the Year, for his display against his charges.
“He was incredible! He was a thorn in our flesh a few years ago when we almost won the league where in the last game he made like 22-23 saves,” said Kean.
“Every time the ball got in the six-yard box, he was there. He also made a fantastic save at 2-1 to prevent us from going level.
“I thought he was exceptional and tonight he is the man of the match,” added Kean.
In addition, French centre-back Francois Marque should be doubtful for the next game against defending champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) next Thursday.
Caption: Francois Marque (R) receiving treatment for his injury. Picture: Yee Chun Leong
Home United FC hope to keep momentum going
“To win an away game especially against DPMM FC is not easy. For the past few years we were not winning here (in Brunei),” said Home United coach Aidil Shahrin.
“Today we did it because the players have been pushing a lot on commitment and their fitness is good. Hopefully the players will continue from here," he added.
Aidil admitted that it was difficult to keep up after DPMM FC made the changes to start the second half.
He countered by sending on Aqhari Abdullah to have four in midfield.
“We struggled the first 10minutes when they changed the system and they kept coming towards us,” said Aidil.
”I also had to change the system to four in the midfield because they kept coming from the wing as they got good players on top.
“So this is where we had to change and that's where we got the third goal,” he added.
Caption: Home United goalkeeper Hassan Sunny (L) came up big for his team with key saves in the match. Picture: Yee Chun Leong
Singapore No 1 goalkeeper Hassan was a big signing for the Protectors and Aidil also heaped praise on the shotstopper.
“He has always been good and we need him this season,” said Aidil.
“He brings a lot of experience. He was guiding the defenders and young players. He is definitely the man of the match but credit the other players and don’t take away from them for their effort,” he concluded.