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DPMM coach Vjeran Simunic barking out instructions during their loss to Albirex Niigata

Simunic: Albirex deserve to win title

DPMM coach Vjeran Simunic barking out instructions during their loss to Albirex Niigata


The Brunei DPMM coach was distraught with his side's loss against the second-placed Japanese side, whose club executive Yeo Jun Xian insisted were taking each game as they come

Brunei DPMM coach Vjeran Simunic was left distraught and at a loss for words after watching his side slump to their sixth loss of the season, following a 2-0 defeat to second-placed Albirex Niigata.

The Sultanate’s only professional side now sit eighth in the 12-team S.League standings, with a top-six finish looking doubtful after yet another disappointing performance in front of the home fans.

“I knew that Albirex is a team who can wait until 90 minutes and then score,” bemoaned the Croatian.

“We lost concentration in the last 10 minutes because we wanted to take all three points. We made a mistake and lost. We burned because of our desire to win.”

Simunic hauled veteran defender Pg Salehuddin Damit off at the interval and threw Adi Said into the fray in an attempt to change the dynamics of the game, a substitution that admittedly could have been the cause of DPMM’s late collapse.

“It was a tactical substitution; I wanted Adi to press the Albirex backline so we could try to score,” explained the 57-year-old.

“If we scored first, it would have been a different game. We had many chances but didn’t score, and we knew that one goal would be enough for them to win.

“Albirex are a serious team, and I think they deserve to win the league.”

Speaking on behalf of White Swans coach Koichi Sugiyama, club executive Yeo Jun Xian was very humble in his views about the result, which marked their biggest winning margin of the season.

“We have to give credit to DPMM FC [because] they played a very good game and have been very hospitable to us for the duration of our trip,” said Yeo.

“For this game, both teams had chances, but we converted two of ours. We were glad that we got the two goals and got the victory in the end.”

Albirex’s tactics throughout the game frustrated both DPMM and their fans, with goalkeeper Hiroaki Hara getting as many touches as the defenders in front of him. That, according to Yeo, is the essence of Sugiyama’s footballing philosophy.

“I think for every game, we try to go for a victory, but it has always been the coach’s philosophy of possession,” he opined.

“He practices a lot about possession. I think that is the key. To him possession is important, and of course attacking as well, so being patient and playing the ball around, especially in the second half when we found the opportunity and scored the two goals, it is very much in line with his philosophy for the whole season.”

Tampines Rovers’ 1-0 win over Warriors FC was enough to maintain their two-point advantage at the top, whilst they also have a game in hand over their main title-contenders, who Yeo explains are taking the season one game at a time.

“Of course we want to try to win the title, but we take it one game at a time,” stated Yeo.

“This has been a good game, but we have our next league game, which is next Friday against Courts Young Lions.

“Every game is not easy in this league, though we will try our best to get the next three points available.”