Match Of The Week

DPMM not finished article: Pennock

Brunei DPMM's former Belarus international striker Andrei Varankou (left) is the Singapore Premier League's leading scorer with 12 goals. PHOTO: FAS
Brunei DPMM's former Belarus international striker Andrei Varankou (left) is the Singapore Premier League's leading scorer with 12 goals. PHOTO: FAS

SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Geylang International v Brunei DPMM

Our Tampines Hub, 8.30pm

Brunei DPMM are enjoying their view from the summit a third into the Singapore Premier League season, but coach Adrian Pennock does not believe his side will end the campaign unbeaten.

With seven wins and two draws, they are the only unbeaten team. They lead champions Albirex Niigata (17 points) by six points.

DPMM will look to extend their excellent run against third-from-bottom Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub tonight.

However, when asked if his side could emulate Albirex's feat last year, when the Japanese team did not lose a league game, Pennock said: "It's not impossible, but we've played every team now, and it'll be very, very difficult to do.

"Every game we played, maybe except (a 7-1 win over) Balestier where they had injuries to key players, hasn't been a walkover. So it'll be a very tall order.

"We're just enjoying the moment, but we know we've got to lose sometime, and maybe soon."

The Englishman, who was formerly assistant to Tony Pulis at Premier League side Stoke City, added: "Obviously, it's great to be sitting nicely at the top of the tree, but we're there to be shot at."

Pennock, 48, pointed to the fitness work done in pre-season last December, daily runs on the hills and in the jungles of Bandar Seri Begawan, as being key to the team's current success.

His foreign imports have also shone. Former Belarus international striker Andrei Varankou is the league's leading scorer with 12 goals, while Australian midfielder Blake Ricciuto has also impressed, scoring four goals in the last five games.

"The important thing for us has been hard work," said Pennock.

"We have players who can score goals and win games on their own, but everybody works hard for each other.

"We can still improve. We're not the finished article for sure."

The odds are stacked against Geylang, whose coach Noor Ali faces a major selection headache.

Barry Maguire, Syahiran Miswan, Noor Ariff and Darren Teh are suspended, while former Singapore internationals Firdaus Kasman (calf) and Christopher van Huizen (back) are struggling with injuries. Key attacker Shawal Anuar is not match fit after recovering from a serious knee injury.

Noor Ali named six Under-23 players in his starting XI in last Saturday's 2-0 defeat by Albirex and may have to field even more youngsters against DPMM.

But he said: "This is an opportunity for my young boys to show if they are able to put in consistent performances. And they are willing to play hard and compete."

Referring to this week's Champions League comebacks by Liverpool and Tottenham, he quipped: "There have been two big upsets in football already this week. Maybe our game could be the third?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'DPMM not finished article: Pennock'. Print Edition | Subscribe