REPORTING FROM BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
It was a gloomy day in Brunei yesterday, with rain falling constantly at the Jerudong Mini Stadium, home of Brunei DPMM.
But the weather did little to dampen spirits in the DPMM camp as they prepared for potentially the biggest night in the club's 15-year history.
There was laughter all around the training ground as the players went through their warm-up session, although it did not take long for things to get serious.
Tonight, the Bruneian outfit head to the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium aware that victory over Balestier Khalsa would guarantee them a first Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.
They were in a similar situation last year, but spectacularly collapsed on the last day of the season, and coach Steve Kean has challenged his charges to rise to the occasion this time.
"We would have liked to have wrapped it up by now," the former Blackburn Rovers manager told The New Paper yesterday.
"But, like I've said before, if we can bring it to our last game at home and win it in order to win the title, we would have taken it.
"We need only one thing to happen… That's for us to win.
"You can see from the attitude of the lads that we're confident and in good form."
Much has been made about how DPMM let the title slip from their grasp last season, allowing the Warriors to win it at the last hurdle.
This term, they have also wasted a number of golden opportunities to wrap up the title in previous weeks.
Kean, however, is confident that the haunting memories of last term's collapse will not be playing on their minds.
He said: "If anything, I think we've taken a lot of positives from last year.
"It was a bit of a learning experience where we spent most of the time on top of the table before falling away at the end.
"I honestly believe that was due to the players having to cope with club and international commitments.
"When we came back (from the Suzuki Cup qualifiers), the players were physically and mentally shattered.
"This year, we're energetic, bright and bubbly… I see a dramatic difference and now we want to show everybody we can rise to the challenge.
"Football is about learning from your experiences.
"We might be a year older, but I believe our minds are a year brighter and we can use that as a massive positive."
For some of DPMM's loyal stalwarts, tonight could be their last chance to get their hands on the S.League trophy.
Kean believes being crowned champions would see many of the players "go down in folklore" and his captain Rosmin Kamis is determined to do just that.
"I've been at the club for nearly 11 years," he told TNP yesterday.
"Now at 34, I'm getting older, so I really want to give the club something before I eventually retire.
"Lifting the S.League title tomorrow would mean so much."
A massive turnout is already expected at the 30,000-capacity Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium tonight, although the club have spared no expense in drumming up the support with free entry to the match, as well as a lucky draw with flight tickets up for grabs.
Asked about the impact the fans could have, Rosmin added: "It's a good kind of pressure playing at home in front of a huge crowd and I hope it will serve to motivate all the players."
This article was first published on November 21, 2015.
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