News • February 5, 2016
S.League 2016 Team Preview: Brunei DPMM
Written By: Alex Weaver
Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League teams have benefited from having good foreign players over the past two decades.
So with the S.League new foreign player quota rule, which states that clubs can now only field three of them, it looks like Steve Kean’s Brunei DPMM would be the most affected by the new rule.
While the local clubs within the league are replacing two foreign players with arguably some of the best talent in Singapore, following the introduction of the disbanded LionsXII players, DPMM’s first eleven will most likely already contain the best of their available local resources and will now have to replace two foreign players with two youth team prospects.
The Wasps have retained 30-year-old Scottish-born centre-back Brian McLean along with 27-year-old Brazilian striker Rafael Ramazotti and 32-year-old Portugese striker Paolo Sérgio.
This means that Serbian defender Boris Raspudić and Irish midfielder Joe Gamble had to be released.
Both players produced outstanding performances during last season’s championship-winning campaign and Kean will no doubt miss the overall experience they brought to the side.
In the meantime, clubs such as title rivals Tampines Rovers have added senior players with international experience such as Afiq Yunos and Shahdan Sulaiman.
So with DPMM having to add two young Bruneian prospects, the comparison makes it difficult to envisage the defending champions being successful in retaining their title.
Coach Profile – Steve Kean
Kean has utilised all of his experience and knowledge after losing out on the title in 2014 to Warriors FC.
Recognising that certain defensive weaknesses cost his side vital points in that campaign, the Scot shrewdly went on to sign six-foot, two-inch centre-back Brian McLean after failing in a bid to land Warriors FC and Singapore goalkeeper, Hassan Sunny.
The former Motherwell and Dundee United player went on to form a vital defensive partnership with DPMM regular, Boris Raspudić.
Retaining his strike-force of Ramazotti and Sérgio will likely be considered as a job well done by the Scot, considering the pair scored 34 goals between them last term.
It will also be interesting to see if the league’s most high profile coach will change anything tactically this year given his side is missing two key defensive players in Raspudić and Gamble.
The diamond in midfield, sometimes used instead of a more conventional 4-4-2 may be seen more often this season or even a more compact 4-5-1 with Sérgio breaking from deep positions to support Ramazotti.
While Kean’s quality and experience are unquestionable, only time will tell whether circumstances that have reduced the quality of the tools he has to work with will prevent him from repeating the job he did so well in 2015.
Star Player – Paulo Sergio
The simplest way to prevent top-scorer, Rafael Ramazotti from having so many chances to hurt your defence is to ensure his Portuguese teammate does not have the space and therefore the time to deliver accurate service to him.
The former SL Benfica Academy graduate made 17 assists last year and linked up dangerously with the Brazilian front man.
The difference between ‘knowing’ the threat and ‘doing’ what is required to stop it, however, will likely separate those that are successful against the current league champions from those that are not, in the upcoming season.
S.League.com Season Prediction: 5th
While it seems unlikely that losing two key players will cause a fall from grace for a title-winning club, Warriors FC proved last season how significant it can be for a defending champion to lose key members of their defensive lineup.
Replacing two very influential foreign players with two young Bruneians will mean a possible ‘Chelsea-like’ title defence.