Kean on goals
DPMM coach wants the Wasps to sting Tampines into submission
TAMPINES ROVERS v BRUNEI DPMM
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Jurong West Stadium)
They pushed champions Warriors FC all the way to the wire in the race for last season's Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.
But, halfway through the current campaign, it appears Brunei DPMM are already losing steam.
The Wasps have picked up just one win in their last six league matches.
Their last two games were 1-1 draws with the bottom teams in the table - the Courts Young Lions at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Sunday, and Hougang United on their own home turf in Bandar Seri Begawan three days ago.
Ahead of his team's big clash against title rivals Tampines Rovers at the Jurong West Stadium tonight, however, DPMM coach Steve Kean has no intention of pressing the panic button just yet.
The former Blackburn Rovers manager insists his team have been playing well, and that they will return to winning ways.
"It's not as though we haven't been controlling those games," the Scot told The New Paper last night after arriving in Singapore.
"It's just that, at the moment, we've had a little dry spell in front of goal.
"Against Hougang, we had 11 or 12 shots on goal, but scored only one goal. We haven't been ruthless enough."
DPMM have scored only six goals in their last six league games.
Prior to that, the team's strike rate was 13 in six, as they made a storming start to the season.
Kean backed his side to come good against Tampines tonight.
He said: "It would be massive (to beat Tampines), especially with the way recent results have gone and with teams around us dropping points.
"The Tampines defence will be worried about the threat we have in players like Rafael (Ramazotti, the league's leading scorer), Paulo Sergio and Azwan Ali.
"I'm sure it'll come together for us soon. We've been practising finishing in training all week."
The form book, however, firmly points in the direction of Tampines as favourites for this game, even though DPMM ran out 2-0 victors the last time the two teams met, on May 10 in Brunei.
The Stags have won their last three S.League matches, scoring eight goals and conceding none.
Coach V Sundamoorthy, who has arguably the strongest squad in the S.League, has found a settled starting 11, and told TNP he wants to keep his team's momentum up.
"I just hope we won't be hit by too many injuries and suspensions for the rest of the season," said the man known as "The Dazzler" during his playing days.
"The boys are more settled and, more importantly, have found winning ways. We want to keep that up.
"We didn't have a good start to the season. But we're in better shape now and it's important to keep our streak going and pick up wins, especially when we are playing at Jurong West."
"The boys are more settled and, more importantly, have found winning ways. We want to keep that up."
- Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy
BY THE NUMBERS
5 Tampines have managed five clean sheets out of six matches at home. On their travels, DPMM have kept a clean sheet twice in four matches.
Clash of the hotshots
Tampines Rovers striker Mateo Roskam is desperate to make up for lost time.
Just two matches into the season, in a 1-0 win over Courts Young Lions where the Croat (pictured above) scored the winner, he picked up a knee ligament injury that sidelined him for two months.
He toiled his way back to full fitness, but had to wait another two months because of the S.League's mid-season break for the South-east Asia Games.
Now that the S.League has resumed, Roskam is making the most of every minute he has on the field.
He has scored four goals in the Stags' last three games.
"I had to wait two months because of injury and then another two months because of the break... I'm sick of waiting," Roskam told TNP, with a chuckle.
"Now, I'm finally fit. 100 per cent.
"I missed six games because of injury, and maybe I could have scored more in those games.
"But I am not thinking about that any more... The most important thing now is to help Tampines win the league."
One of the most memorable moments in Roskam's career was when he was part of Spanish third-tier side Cultural Leonesa in 2010, and the club were drawn with the superstars of Barcelona in the Round of 32 of the Copa del Rey.
"Most of their star players played in the first leg at Leon, which we lost 2-0 and I played a part in," recalled Roskam. "Only Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) and (Carles) Puyol didn't play, and I was marking Yaya Toure and Eric Abidal at corners.
"Here in the S.League, I feel big. But marking Toure, I didn't. Each of his legs was the size of two of mine!
"I played as a striker, but didn't have even a shot at goal. It's difficult when you are running after the ball a lot. But it was one of my best memories as a player."
- Mateo Roskam
- Age: 28
- Hometown: Split, Croatia
- Height: 1.86m
- Weight: 75kg
- Former clubs: NK Zagreb, Slaven Belupo (both Croatia), Siroki Brijeg (Bosnia), Cultural Leonesa (Spain), Sime Darby (Malaysia)
- 2015 strike rate: 5 goals in 7 games
- Did you know? Roskam has a Europa League goal to his name. He scored for Siroki Brijeg in the qualifying match against Slovenia’s Olimpija in July 2010.
Tampines Rovers need no introduction to the Brunei DPMM's targetman.
Not only is Rafael Ramazotti (pictured above) the S.League's top scorer, he also found the net when the two teams first met this season, on May 10 in Bandar Seri Begawan.
Twenty minutes into the match, the Brazilian striker latched onto a smothered clearance by Tampines goalkeeper Joey Sim, and fired home through a sea of legs from the edge of the penalty box to give DPMM the lead.
The home side eventually won 2-0.
Judging by his CV, Ramazotti can be considered a footballing journeyman, having played in three continents and in countries like Portugal, Switzerland and Japan, in addition to his native Brazil.
But he seems to have found his second home in Brunei. Despite leading the pack for the league's Top Scorer award, the affable South American insists he is focused on only helping his team win.
In a recent interview with The New Paper, he said: "I'm happy because I can help the team.
"It is important to have the belief that we can win the title and, with a really good team, we definitely have a chance to be champions.
"But we need to continue working hard every day and aim to win every match.
"I hope we can win the league because that is the most important thing.
"If I end up becoming the top scorer as well, then that's just something extra that will make me even happier."
- SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ
- Rafael Ramazotti
- Age: 26
- Hometown: Sao Caetano, Brazil
- Height: 1.93m
- Weight: 83kg
- Former clubs (selected): Palmeiras, Bahia (both Brazil), Gil Vicente (Portugal), FC Zurich (Switzerland), Gainare Tottori (Japan)
- 2015 strike rate: 12 goals in 12 games
- Did you know? Ramazotti likes to strike early. Half his 12 S.League goals came in the first half-hour. The latest he has scored in a game is in the 71st minute.
"He gives DPMM a physical presence in and around the box. He’s a prolific scorer, but we also have to watch out for other players, like Paulo Sergio and Azwan Ali, who are talented players."
- Tampines Rovers coach V Sundramoorthy on Ramazotti
"I don’t like to comment on opposition players, to be honest, but we know he’s a good player and always a threat."
- DPMM coach Steve Kean on Tampines’ Roskam