Beating Albirex would be perfect birthday present for DPMM's Wardun
Wardun Yussof, who celebrated his 34th birthday yesterday, is hoping for a belated present tomorrow when his Brunei DPMM side take on Great Eastern Yeo's S.League title rivals Albirex Niigata at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
If the Bruneian outfit win, they would move six points clear at the top of the table, with only eight games to go.
Steve Kean's charges were in a similar position last year when they led for much of the season, before being pipped to the title by Warriors FC on the final day.
As they approach the business end this time, the goalkeeper has urged his teammates to learn from their mistakes in their pursuit of a first S.League title.
"It would be a belated present by two days but, yes, I will be hoping for a win against Albirex," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"It will ensure we get the third round of the campaign off to a good start.
"It's crucial for us to keep our spot at the top of the table, especially when the other teams are doing all they can to take points from us.
"For all you know, even one point could make the difference in the end.
"It's happened twice already - in 2012 and last year - when we had the title in our grasp but allowed it to slip away.
"But these are the things that we learn from and hopefully we can win as many games in the third round."
The jovial Wardun, who jokingly claimed he still looked 24 despite being a decade older, is now one of DPMM's elder statesmen, having been at the club since 2006.
Along the way, he has picked up three League Cup winners' medals but is determined to complete the full collection Singapore football has to offer.
The Brunei international added: "I may be 34 now but, as long as the team need me, I will do my best to help our quest to lift silverware.
"We've managed to win the League Cup three times in four attempts, so my target is now to win the S.League and the RHB Singapore Cup."
Despite getting on in years, Wardun has shown no signs of slowing down. If anything, he has reinforced the notion that goalkeepers reach their peak right at the end of their careers.
Aided by a stable defence boasting veterans such as Boris Raspudic, Sairol Sahari and Brian McLean, his commanding displays have proved integral to DPMM's title challenge.
Nonetheless, he insists credit is everyone's for DPMM's having the league's third-best defensive record.
"The backline has done a great job in ensuring our opponents don't find it easy to get through us," he said.
"But, like the coach tells us, all this starts from the top with our forwards.
"We defend as a team and that will be important for us as we continue to work towards winning the title."