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Newly appointed DPMM FC Head Coach Adrian PEnnock heaped praise on the technical abilityof the local players as they stepped up their preparations in pre-season training ahead of the upcoming Singapore Premier League season.
"Technically, they are very good with their feet.Obviously,it is a little bit different than back in England," said Pennock in an interview with the Bulletin after training at the Jerudong Mini Stadium on Tuesday.
"At home in England, the players are a little bit bigger and strongerbut what they lack with size they make up with endeavour and work rate."
"There are very good footballers here in Brunei but we just got to have the balance of a winning formula and hopefully we have a very good season," he added.
The newly-appointed head coach making his first coaching stint in Asia, is also pleased with their progressduring the short time they had together.
"The players have been responding very well to training and they have been excellent. We have been having two or three sessions per day."
The players first reported training in early December last year when the newly appointed head coach Adrian Pennock underwent his first session in his new role.
During that time,the club conducted rounds of trials and eventually acquired the services of Charlie Clough, Blake Ricciuto and Andrey Varankow as foreign imports.
"When we started pre-season,we gave them tests before I went back home to England.They had fat tests,weigh-ins,jump tests and other small tests," said Pennock when asked about the first days of re-season training at the Sultanate.
"We just try to get them more conditioned and get them stronger not for a body builder but for an athlete," he added.
Emphasis has been placed towards optimising the players' level of fitness as pre season encompasses hilly runs to the jungle and swimming to supplement the gym work.
"Im not worried with the ball work in the first two weeks.The first two weeks is more concerned with the conditioning and fitness levels,and obviously running, gym work and light ball sessions," the former Stoke City first team coach added.
A normal day at the office for the players will be hilly runs in the jungle before doing laps in the swimming pool at the Hassana l Bolkiah Sports Swimming Complex as wellas training at the Jerudong Mini Stadium.
Other sessions will see the players working out in the gym before moving in the pool for swimming where Pennock shared sports-related benefits.
He said,"We find that the pool was very good because you can have good stretches and there will be more recovery sessions in the pool."
With squad selection for the Singapore PRemier League yet to be finalised,there are currently 27 local players in training hoping to secure a spot im the team.
"Everybody is here to impress and they are at the moment. Nobody has let me down," said the former Gillingham player.
Albirex Niigata FC (S) are looking for an unprecedented fourth straight RHB Singapore Cup triumph when they take on Brunei DPMM FC on Saturday evening at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The White Swans have won the Cup three times in a row and look set to retain the title,especially after going through the entire season unbeaten in all competitions.
However,DPMM Head Coach Rene Weber is calling on his squad to create hostory themselves by winning their first Singapore Cup.
"The opponents haven't lost any games;they are three-time champions of the Cup but this is football,anything can happen," Weber said.
"We can respect the opponents but that menas we have to play harder than them-thats respect."
At the other camp,Albirex Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga is refusing to take anything for granted despite his side's unblemished record, noting that their opponents are enjoying a good run of form.
"We do not think of any past records,"he said. "For us,what we achieved in the past remains in the past.Our players and ourselves will give our best.
"DPMM have been unbeaten for ten games and Rene Weber is a very good coach for DPMM.He has helped to improve a lot of players but we will prepare well and try to win."
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Albirex head coach Yoshinaga: "Our players showed their mental strength and other strengths to win their last game,we have one more game and we want the players to give their best and win the final.
"Although there are no local clubs in the final, but we always considered ourselves a local club and we have a lot of Singaporean supporters.We will fight hard for the supporters to win the final."
DPMM head coach Rene Weber:"We hope to win the final and write our history into the books.
"Three days to recover before a match is tough, but it is tough for Albirex too.We must believe in more of our ability, and I hope to see that on Saturday.
"We want to forget about the last game.Its not impossible for us to win on Saturday."
Two late goals from Brunei DPMM saw them make the RHB Singapore Cup final wirh a 4-2 win on agreegate at the expense of Balestier Khalsa FC, following a 2-2 draw in the semifinal second leg on Wednesday evening at the Toa Payoh Stadium.
Hazzuwan Halim and Huzaifah Aziz had helped the Tigers to draw level on aggregate with first-half goals, but the visitors came roaring back after the break with Shahrazen Said and Volodomyr Priyomov each netting once.
The hosts started with aplomb and created enough chances to score thrice in the opening ten minutes, but Vedran Mesec was denied by a great reflex save from Haimie Nyaring and Keegan Linderboom hit the bar with a header.
A wonderful delivery from Ahmad Syahir the found Hazzuwan unmarked inside the box, but the winger somehow put his header wide.
But the Tigers' pressure eventually paid off when Hazzuean eanrd a penaltymwhivh he duly dispatched with ease to reduce the deficit on 37 minutes.
It got better four minutes later, with Hazzuwan involved in the thick of action once again.A one-twobetween Huzaifah and Hazzuwan allowed the former to bear down on goal before slotting ther ball past Haimie to put Balestier level in the tie.
DPMM tried to impose themselves in the second half and Priyomov came close early on,before Azwan Ali forced Zaiful Nizam into a decent save and Adi Said blasted a free-kick narrowly over.
The hosts caved in the 78th minute when Shahrazen Said smacked the ball in after Brian McLean's header came off the bar.
It all went pear-shaped five minutes later after a lapse in the Balestier defense let DPMM in again.
A high ball was not dealt properly by Shaqi Sulaiman and Azwan Ali managed to nick it before gettinh a shot away.The ball toom a deflection off Zaiful and Shaqi before falling kindly for Priyomov, who tapped it into an empty net for his 21st goal of the season.
DPMM will take on Singapore Premier League champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) in the Cup final on Satirday after the Japanese side defeated Home United to win the other semifinal tie 4-2 on agreegate,whie Balestier will take on Home United in the third/fourth-placing match earlier on the same day.
WHAT THEY SAID
Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: "Nothing happened for them until the 79th minute.Everything was ok but in this kind of tempo,you cannot last the whole game.We started losing the shaope,but they didn't create much chances against us as well.One set-piece killed us at 2-1,we tried pushing for another goal and then we conceded once more and the game was over.
"I was a wasted opportunity as we could have scored three or four goals easily in the first half.Its noteasy to play the second half the same way...but its very sad.Now we have to fight for third...Lets move on and learn from this."
DPMM Head Coach Rene Weber: "I was very sad about our team in the first half as we don't usually play that way.In the second half, we turned it around because...they believed in themselves and what they can do.We also had a better strategy in the second half.
"I'm happy.They deserve the win...At the start of the season,I said I came to do something this season so I hope to win the final and write our name into the history books."
There was no love between Balestier Khalsa FC and Brunei DPMM as they played out a 0-0 draw at Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday night, before meeting again at the same venue in the second leg of the RHB Singapore Cup semifinals in four days' time.
Having lost the first leg of their Singapore Cup semifinal 2-0 three nights ago,Balestier were looking for positives in this game ahead of next Wednesday's second leg and they can take heart from stopping Ukrainian hit-man Volodomyr Priyomov from scoring.
The 32-year old was frustrated all night by Balestier's centreback pairing of Sahqi Slaiman and Nurullah Hussein and will need to score at least thrice in DPMM's final game on 9th October to overhaul current top scorer Shuhei Hoshino, who is on 19 goals.
Balestier were plucky in the opening exchanges and could scored after juts six minuytes,but Vedran Mesec was unable to put his dead ball on target.
DPMM did go close 10 minutes later when captain zwan Salleh's freekick was spilled into the path of Adi said, but the latter's follow-up went straight to Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.
Balestier continued to threaten, with Mesec in the thick of everything as the Croatain attacking midfielder thrashed two long-range efforts over thereafter.
Zaiful then did well to keep the scores level,as he fling his body to deny Abd Azizi Rahman point-blank range on 40 minutes after Priyomov's scuffed shot had fell into his path in the area.
The Tigers suffered a big blow going into halftime as New Zealander attacker Keegan Linderboom suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Noor Akid Nordin.
That meant they lost some headway in the second half while DPMM were seemingly happy to remain in second gear to preserve themselves for next week's Cup tie.
Rene Weber's men did go closing to snatching all three points away from Toa Payoh seven minutes from time, but substitute Abd Hariz Herman blasted wide from just outside the area.
It would eventually end as a goalless draw, with Balestier finishing the season in sixth place while DPMM can still dislodge Tampines Rovers from third with victory against Young Lions.
Brunei DPMM took a giant step towards the 2018 RHB Singapore Cup final after a first-leg 2-0 win over Balesiter Khalsa FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Volodomyr Priyomov scored a debatable penalty to open the scoring before Azwan Ali struck a wonderful effort to seal victory for the visitors, who are hunting their first triumph in this tournamnet.
Balestier will feel done by the results as they had dictated play for most of the game until the spot-kick was awarded in the 68th minute.
The Tigers were remarkably composed in the opening stages of the game but they failed to capitalise on some gift-edged chances.
Keegan Linderboom failed to get the best of Haimie Nyaring after being played through by Hazzuwan Halim in the 11th minute,while the latter followed up with a team effort just moments later.
Another chance went begging in the 26th minute after Huzaifah Aziz drove down the glank and his cut-back found Hazzuwan in the box, but Hainie stood firm with a good save.
Linderboom will then wonder how he failed to score in the 33rd minute, Haimie fluffed his clearance towards Huzaifah and the midfielder cleverly played Linderboom through, only for the striker's low effort to crash off the right post.
The New Zealander continued to ebdure a torrid night,missing twice from close range after meeting superb deliveries by Huzaifah in the 35th and 53rd minute respectively.
The turning point of the game would arrive when Nurullah Hussein was adjudged to have handled Brian McLean's cross and Priyomov duly converted the resulting spot-kick.
If the first goalcame in a debatable manner, there was nothing Balestier could complain about for the second.
After failing to clear their lines,the ball fell to Shahrazen Said and he set up Awan Ali to curl a stunning striker into the top left corner from 25 yards.
Balestier will now have a mountsin to climb when both teams face off again in the second leg on 3 October at Toa Payoh Stadium.
WHAT THEY SAID
DPMM Team Manager Hj Ali Momin: "Balestier are a good team,only their finishing was poor tonight;if they scored a goal in the first half, maybe it would be a different situation.
"For the first half, we were not doing well and I don't know what happened to our players.In the second half, we started to attack more after putting one more striker in the middle and that helped us to score.
"Balestier were playing well, they got the second ball faster than us and our players seemed to be second for everything and that's how Balestier attacked us.But luckily, their finishing was not on point and it was good for us.
"For us 2-0 is enough for the second leg.Its not much but its good to have a two-goal lead in the pocket, so if we are not doing well...its enough for us."
Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: "I am very disappointed with the score tonigt.The boys worked hard , we made chances and we should be ahead,very clearly,but we made mistakes and this happens in football."We wanted to attack, we wanted to win the game-we did not come here to wait for the second game and the boys did a great job.Only we made one mistake and our opponents punished us...we had many clear chances to go ahead.DPMM were second best for almost everything.
"Of course,when you are playing well and then you concede a soft penalty, everthing chnages.
"We never say die, we are going to Tao Payoh Stadium,we are going to score one goal and then step by step we will get there,but we need to keep a clean sheet.
"I am very confident that the chnaces we missed, we will score them next Wednesday."