|FROM HOUGANG STADIUM
By Teng Kiat
His side’s 3-1 win over Hougang United last night ensured that the S.League title race would go down to the wire, and Brunei DPMM coach Vjeran Simunic made it clear that he hoped Harimau Muda would do them a favor.
“If Tampines [Rovers] make a mistake, we would be happy .I think [Harimau] Muda can beat any team here. If Tampines play a bad game, and Muda play like they can play… they can beat any team,” Simunic claimed.
The Croat did warn his side not to be complacent, ahead of their own match against Balestier Khalsa.
“Even DPMM cannot be sure they can beat Balestier; it’s good for football, good for the S.League that the last game decides [the title],” Simunic said.
The home side had taken an early lead in the 10th minute before being overturned by a strong DPMM comeback, and Simunic claimed he simply gave belief to his side during half-time.
“[I told them] we were the better team, we must get the ball down like Barcelona [and play].Our free-kicks [were] excellent - today was maybe our 25th goal [from free-kicks],” he said.
His compatriot, Hougang coach Nenad Bacina, lamented his side’s inability to put the ball in the back of the net.
“I have to give credit to my players. I think we opened up the game very well [but] psychologically we are not able to handle situations when we are leading against top teams,” the Croat explained.
“But I think during the whole game, I did not see many chances for DPMM, and we created more scoring chances; unfortunately, most of them were not converted.”
The former SAFFC captain was still satisfied with the performance of his players, if not the result, and vowed that the Cheetahs would do their best to end their home campaign in triumph.
“I was telling the players after the final whistle that we have to break this spell on our home-ground, because we have not collected three points here since [beating] Geylang in the first half [of the season],” Bacina stated.
“It is not going to be easy as we are playing Harimau Muda, a very good side.. but definitely we will come back better.”
Bacina also tipped Tampines to snag the title, saying: “They are depending on themselves, so it is a good situation for them. For me, Tampines are still favorites.”
Simunic, on the other hand, did not appear to be too concerned about the destination of the S.League trophy, claiming that it would still be a ‘historic’ achievement for them to finish second.
“Our country [Brunei] is now very proud; we like football. We have excellent imports, but it is a Bruneian team. All the Bruneians players [have] now become stars,” he said.
“We have 10 days to prepare for Balestier [and] I think it will be a big stadium, a big party.”