Balestier's Cunningham tips DPMM for League Cup glory
Balestier's Cunningham believes Brunei outfit will be too strong for Jaguars
Brunei DPMM v Tanjong Pagar United
(Tonight, 8pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
In the StarHub League Cup "plate" final at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night, Tampines Rovers thrashed Balestier Khalsa 3-0, after a hat-trick by marquee striker Miljan Mrdakovic.
Though beaten, it must be acknowledged that Balestier have developed a taste for the competition.
The Tigers were in the final last season and crushed Brunei DPMM 4-0, as the Toa Payoh-based club lifted their first piece of silverware since the S.League was launched in 1996.
Balestier defender Paul Cunningham, who scored and wore the armband in that game, will watch tonight's final between DPMM and Tanjong Pagar United.
And the 28-year-old expects the Brunei side to redeem themselves after last year's embarrassing defeat.
"It's hard to look past DPMM after what happened last season. They will not want a repeat of that," said the Kiwi, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since undergoing surgery in May.
"They have had a great year so far in the S.League, with almost the same squad as the year before, save for a few new foreigners.
"I think they will have a great final (tonight) and lift the trophy."
S.League leaders DPMM, who won the competition in 2009 and 2012, will be without suspended forward Rodrigo Tosi, who has netted 23 goals in all competitions this year.
The Brazilian striker's absence means that the scoring burden will fall on Roy O' Donovan, 28, who is the club's second-top scorer with 21 goals in all competitions.
The Irishman will likely start up front alongside local forward Adi Said.
Cunningham said the loss of Tosi will hit the Brunei side, but not enough to derail them against the Jaguars.
"They've got good, hardworking local players and a very sharp striker in O' Donovan," he said.
"I don't know if his role will change playing without Tosi, but he's been scoring goals all season long. He's tough to mark and is a top finisher.
"Plus, if Tanjong Pagar lack anything, it's strength in defence. I think that will tell on them (tonight)."
Led by marquee striker Monsef Zerka, the Jaguars will welcome back utility man Ahmad Latiff for the final, but will miss suspended defender Hafiz Osman.
Anthony Aymard, the Jaguars' only foreign defender, has been struggling with fitness recently and did not start the semi-final against Hougang on Monday.
Patrick Vallee's charges have struggled to make any sort of impression in the 2014 campaign and are currently third from bottom in the S.League.
"You never know with Tanjong Pagar," warned Cunningham.
"They were struggling in the league not long ago, but have had a great League Cup tournament so far.
"Still, I think it's asking a lot of them to stop DPMM ."