Champions DPMM drop points again
GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL 1
(Sahil Suhaimi 74)
BRUNEI DPMM 1
(Rafael Ramazotti 75)
Last term, Brunei DPMM won their first two games of the season en route to the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.
This season, they have managed only one point from their first two matches, after they were held to a 1-1 draw by a 10-man Geylang International at Bedok Stadium yesterday.
The Eagles, who started with an unorthodox 3-1-3-3 formation, dominated the early exchanges with their Croatian forward Branko Cubrilo spearheading the offence.
The hosts gave early warning of their attacking intent through Cubrilo, who slotted the ball into the net after it came back off the post, only for the assistant referee to raise his flag for offside.
The best chance of the first half, however, fell to the away side.
With slightly more than five minutes left, DPMM midfielder Maududi Kasmi crossed to an unmarked Azwan Ali Rahman in the Geylang box, only for the latter to fire over from six metres.
But the drama unfolded only in the second half.
First, Geylang winger Amy Recha was given his marching orders in the 66th minute after a second yellow card for a late challenge.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Eagles pressed on and were duly rewarded eight minutes later.
Cubrilo, who was impressive throughout with some rampaging runs and quick thinking, dispossessed the ball in the midfield before bursting forward.
Although he ended up losing the ball, it was another split-second decision from him that led to a goal.
Cubrilo's quick throw-in was not dealt with in the DPMM box, allowing Eagles substitute Sahil Suhaimi to poke the ball past the onrushing DPMM goalkeeper.
But DPMM equalised moments after the restart, with Rafael Ramazotti tapping in after a fine cross from the left from Azwan Ali.
Despite being made to wait for their first win, DPMM coach Steve Kean believes the result does not hurt his side's chances of retaining the title, but rued their missed chances to win the game.
"It's two games into the season, and I think tonight we deserved to be ahead at half-time," he told The New Paper.
"We got the two best chances: Azwan Ali got quite an easy chance, a tap-in, one touch at the back post and the same one on the right-hand side.
"We are slightly disappointed because we think we should have capitalised more when we had an extra man.
"But Geylang are a good team, they showed that last week they can score goals.
"But, on chances, we deserved to get at least two or three goals. We think it's points dropped really, because we had enough chances to win two matches."
His counterpart, Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani, felt more encouraged by the point gained.
"For me, we didn't lose three points. I had a game plan where we came here today to attack from the very start," he said.
"That is what we did… but the only thing lacking actually was to put the ball in the net."
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Branko Cubrilo (Geylang)