By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
Reporting from the Woodlands Stadium
In a keenly-contested affair at the Woodlands Stadium, the winner came in the 50th minute when Hendra Azam curled home a freekick from the edge of the box to win the last-four clash and keep alive his side’s hopes of retaining the title.
The result was certainly an upset in many ways, not only because the Rams were in good form having lost just one of their eight previous outings, but also due to the fact that DPMM were looking to end a five-game winless streak.
More impressively, the win also came despite the Bruneian outfit fielding just one foreign player in their starting XI, with Portugese striker Joao Moreira out with a fractured arm while Tales dos Santos and Arturas Rimkevicius could only make the bench.
However, their one import on the pitch, Rodrigo Tosi, could have handed them a dream start inside two minutes when he rose highest to meet Rosmin Kamis’ right-wing cross and nodded the ball inches wide of the far post.
Four minutes later, Woodlands had their first chance when Moon Soon-ho beat Pg Sallehuddin Damit in a 50-50 challenge and raced through, but he fired wide with only Wardun Yussof to beat.
While both sides were enjoying an equal share of possession in the opening exchanges, it was the visitors who looked the more dangerous in the attacking third and Adi Said narrowly missed out on a good chance in the 26th minute, when Shahrazen Said broke free down the left and played in a cross just behind his unmarked younger brother.
A minute later, the connection did come off as Adi knocked a high ball back into the path of Shahrazen, who unleashed a blistering 25-yard drive that took a slight deflection but was kept out by a flying save from Yazid Yasin.
Straight up the other end, the Rams then had a golden opportunity to open the scoring when they broke forward on the counter and were awarded a penalty after Moon was tripped inside the box. But from 12 yards out, and with Wardun barely making a move, the South Korean somehow screwed his shot wide of the bottom corner.
Buoyed by that narrow escape, DPMM began to grow in confidence and they eventually took the lead five minutes after the break when Shahrazen was tripped on the edge of the box by Cho Sung-hwan, allowing Hendra to step and curl a lovely effort into the back of the net.
It was almost 2-0 a minute later when Adi broke free and raced into the box before drilling a shot towards goal, but Yazid was once again equal to the task and kept it out with a fine stop.
The visitors’ nippy strikers were really causing all sorts of problems for the opposition defence as they displayed a near-telepathic understanding; Shahrazen laid another good chance on for Adi with a sweeping cross, only for the 23-year-old to fire wide from eight yards out.
Despite missing a host of opportunities, Adi was giving an excellent account of himself in the absence of Moreira but was again unable to find the killer touch in the 72nd minute; cutting inside Shariff Samat and firing away but seeing Yazid deny him in a one-on-one situation.
As the clock ticked down, Woodlands’ desperation to find an equaliser was evident by the fact that both defenders Shariff and Cho were thrown up in attack, and the latter nearly found the breakthrough seven minutes from time.
Breaking free down the right, Ang Zhiwei whipped in a cross that was deflected and stabbed towards goal by Cho, only for Wardun to tip it over with an excellent point-blank range save.
Entering injury-time, the Rams had one final chance to force extra-time when Ridhwan Osman found space on the wing and floated the ball into the box, but Moon could only send a difficult header wide of goal.
With that chance gone, so were their hopes of mustering a comeback and it was DPMM who were left celebrating a second straight League Cup final appearance at the final whistle.
Woodlands Wellington: Yazid Yasin, Ang Zhiwei, Shariff Samat, Rosman Sulaiman, Taufiq Rahmat (Hidhir Hasbiallah 66’), Cho Sung-hwan, Atsushi Shimono, Theeraweekin Seehawong, Moon Soon-ho, Chang Jo-yoon, Fadhil Noh (Ridhwan Osman 54’).
DPMM FC: Wardun Yussof, Subhi Abdilah, Pg Sallehuddin Damit (Abdul Aziz Tamit 89’), Suhaimie Yussof (Shahrulrizal Abd Rahman 67’), Helmi Zambin, Hendra Azam, Rosmin Kamis, Azwan Saleh, Rodrigo Tosi, Shahrazen Said, Adi Said.
Image courtesy of VOXSPORTS (Darren Ho)