<Photo Credit: Alfie Lee>
HOME UNITED 5
(Azhar Sairudin 10, Faris Ramli 39, Ken Ilso 71, 73, Syahiran Miswan 85)
BRUNEI DPMM FC 0
This will go down as the worst defeat in their history of S.League participation, what more as defending champions too. And surely, their title defence is now over. In front of 1,900 fans at the Bishan Stadium, Brunei DPMM FC looked disinterested as they disintegrated and were whooped by Home United 5-0.
They started brightly when Shahrazen Said forced Zulfairuuz Rudy into a good save within the first 60 seconds. But believe it or not, that was it from the visitors. Instead, it was Home United midfielder Azahar Sairudin who grabbed the opener after beating two players before floating the ball past Wardun Yussof in the 10th minute.
They then showed what team goal goals are about when they executed the perfect counterattack in the 39th minute for their second of the night. Abdil Qaiyyim headed the ball out left to Faris Ramli, who backheeled it to Sirina Camara and continued his run. The French full back passed the ball to Song Ui Young who switched play beautifully from left to right, finding Shamil Sharif, whose first-time pass into the box was volleyed in by Faris.
Sure, DPMM FC were missing the suspended Paulo Sergio, who has contributed three goal and seven assists, but surely they didn't expect to be this bad in the absence of the Portuguese forward.
But they were worse in the second half, as Ken Ilso seized on a hesitant defence to grab a brace with goals in the 71st and 73rd minute before substitute Syahiran Miswan added the icing on the cake in the 85th minute. Truth be told, it could have been double digits had it not for Faris hitting the post in the 58th minute and Ilso missing a hatful of chance to complete his hat-trick.
Post-match, DPMM coach Steve Kean readily admitted he did not know what had hit his team. The former Blackburn boss said: "I can't explain it. I'm bitterly disappointed because it was definitely the worst result and performance.
"We didn't deserve anything and if you look at the stats, I'm sure we were second to Home United in most areas. "I'm shocked because I didn't think we had this kind of poor performance in us where we could not manage even the basics."
Curiously, after declaring pre-match that his side needed to win every match to retain the title, and then failing, he refused to concede defeat in terms of their title defence despite being marooned in fifth place with just 18 points from 13 games, eight behind leaders Albirex Niigata who have two games in hand.
"The title defence is not over," said Kean.
"Aside from this game, we have played well this season even if the results were against us, and we have trained well.
"But it's pointless being amazing only in training. That said, there will be no time off because we have too much to work on. There are still 33 points to play for and we will be the hardest-working team from now."
On the other hand, Home United are flying high with their fourth straight win that propelled them to third on 21 points from 12 games, and their coach Philippe Aw believes they can finish the season as the best local team regardless whether that's enough to land them their first league title since 2003.
In contrast to DPMM FC, they showed they have the depth to cope with the loss of key players as they continue to win even without goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at, utility man Zulfahmir Arifin, forward Khairul Nizam, as well as right back and skipper Juma'at Jantan who had to be hauled off early in the first half after pulling his hamstring.
Aw said: "I was frustrated because we could not score more, but I'll take 5-0. "After winning four in a row, the cup and international break is rather untimely for us, but we will try to carry our good form into the RHB Singapore Cup next week.
"This is a statement of intent that our season is on track. We are playing well and we can get even better. "Many things can still happen in the season, so our target remains the top three."
HOME UNITED: Zulfairuuz Rudy, Juma'at Jantan (Redzwan Atan 19), Shahrin Saberin, Abdil Qaiyyim, Sirina Camara, Shamil Sharif, Song Ui Young, Aqhari Abdullah (Syahiran Miswan 68), Azhar Sairudin (Sufianto Salleh 78), Faris Ramli, Ken Ilso
BRUNEI DPMM FC: Wardun Yussof, Helmi Zambin (Awangku Fakharrazi 60), Yura Indera Putera, Brian McLean, Najib Tarif, Maududi Kasmi (Hendra Azam 46), Rosmin Kamis, Azwan Ali (Adi Said 46), Azwan Salleh, Rafael Ramazotti, Shahrazen Said