DPMM Finally capture their 1st S-League title

Brunei side are 2nd foreign team to be crowned champs, closest pursuers Stags draw final match

The S-League trophy has a new overseas home after Brunei DPMM captured the title last night on their fourth attempt.

They thrashed Balestier Khalsa 4-0 in Bandar Seri Begawan to lift Singapore's domestic league trophy in front of a partisan crowd, who were given free admission to the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium.

DPMM finished top of the 10-team table with 52 points to become the second foreign team to win the title, after Singapore-based French outfit Etoile FC had triumphed in 2010.

Tampines Rovers, who had been hoping to capture a sixth title (but their first since 2013), finished second on 48 points.

They were held 1-1 by Harimau Muda in a match played concurrently at the Jurong West Stadium.

DPMM had led Tampines by two points, going into the final matches yesterday.

However, it took only six minutes for the Stags' title challenge to come undone. Harimau Muda midfielder Ariff Farhan fired a shot from the far post past goalkeeper Rodrigo Pacheco.

Tampines assistant coach Akbar Nawas admitted later: "Conceding an early goal made life difficult for us. That gave us a lot of trouble."

It did not help that Tampines coach V. Sundramoorthy was serving a touchline ban after being sent off in the previous game and was forced to watch his men play catch-up from the backroom.

Meanwhile, DPMM were charging towards the trophy, courtesy of a hat-trick by Portuguese striker Paulo Sergio in the 13th, 18th and 45th minutes.

Brazilian Rafael Ramazotti added another in the 86th minute to bag the tournament's golden boot with 21 goals.

The night went from bad to worse for the Stags after veteran midfielder Isa Halim was sent off in the 35th minute for punching Akhir Bahari, ensuring the former LionsXII player's first season with the team ended on a low note.

Tempers boiled over towards the end of the match as Harimau Muda's Kenny Pallraj (83rd minute) and Tampines substitute Noh Alam Shah (88th minute) were both red-carded, the latter sent for an early shower less than a minute after coming on. Both were dismissed for violent conduct.

Even though Brazilian forward Rodrigo Tosi equalised for Tampines via a penalty in the 54th minute, the effort eventually proved futile.

Stags captain Mustafic Fahrudin said: "Even though we went 0-1 down, I was still confident we could come back. We tried to push and we had an equaliser, which is good, but I'm disappointed because I really wanted to win the title."

Akbar added: "Everybody expects us to win (each season), but having come back from mid-season when people had written us off, the players deserve credit."

Last night's result will go some way towards easing the pain of last year when DPMM lost the title after being beaten 2-1 by Tampines in the final match of the season.

They had also finished runners-up in 2012, their first full season playing in the S-League.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline 'DPMM FINALLY CAPTURE THEIR 1ST S-LEAGUE TITLE'. Print Edition | Subscribe