By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
After beginning their 2013 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League campaign with back-to-back draws against Home United and Hougang United, the Bruneian outfit finally picked up maximum points on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Courts Young Lions at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Goals from captain Rosmin Kamis and star striker Shahrazen Said handed them a 2-0 lead after 26 minutes but they were then dealt a blow seven minutes before the break when veteran defender Pg Sallehuddin Damit was handed his marching orders.
Although Young Lions managed to pull one back ten minutes after the break thanks to a fine individual effort by Sherif El-Masri, DPMM did enough to hold out for the win despite the numerical deficit, something Simunic admitted was a welcome result.
"Of course I like that we now have our first victory of the season," he said. "We did not deserve to start with two draws.
"This victory will put us in a better mood and now we are breathing more easily and are happier."
While DPMM's first win of the campaign came against a side tipped to struggle this year, and who have now lost their three opening games on the trot, Simunic dismissed the notion that Thursday's game was one his side had been expected to win comfortably.
"I very much respect Young Lions," the Croat added. "This is our fourth or fifth victory against them and I'm always proud when we beat them as I respect them.
"If my team can beat a side like Young Lions, it makes me very happy as a coach, especially because we played with one less player."
One slight blemish on an otherwise impressive display by Simunic's charges was the sending-off of 39-year-old Sallehuddin, who picked up two booking in the span of four first-half minutes.
First, he was cautioned after squaring up with Tajeli Salamat following a hefty challenge in the middle of the park, before being shown a red card after taking a swipe at his opponent after the ball had gone dead.
Even though Simunic has never been afraid to criticise match officials, he opted not to question the judgement of referee Sukhbir Singh after Thursday's game.
"From my bench, I sometimes get caught up in the heat of the moment and say wrong things," the ex-Hajduk Split goalkeeper explained. "When I go home and watch the replay of DVD, sometimes I may be wrong.
"My player is very old but he is a fighter. I think he got the red card more for his reaction than the actual foul.
"The linesman had already told me to speak to number six [Sallehuddin] and I wanted to change him and save him for our next game. But then he went forward and ended up pushing the player, and he never goes forward!
"But this made the victory very sweet - winning 2-1 is probably better than if we had won 3-0."
Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar admitted his side had left themselves with a mountain to climb after conceding two goals he felt were avoidable, although he was pleased with the way they fought back in the second half.
"I'm definitely disappointed," he said. "I think it was a tale of two halves.
"The first half wasn't our best; I'm not happy with the goals we conceded. Normally when you play against ten men they will rise to the occasion.
"We had our chances and Sherif scored a beautiful goal but unfortunately Shamil [Sharif] couldn't convert after [DPMM goalkeeper] Wardun [Yussof] had spilled the ball into his path.
"We also had a goal [from Faiz Salleh] ruled out for offside."
The ex-Singapore captain also believes there were positives to take from the game, but is hoping his selection problems in attack ease up in time for their next game against Balestier Khalsa.
"I'm expecting them to make mistakes like these because they're young," Aide added. "I'm pretty sure they'll grow and these mistakes and defeats will make them stronger.
"I've told them they must have the self-belief to win every game that they play. It wasn't there in the first half but I though they showed it in the second half.
"I hope we can carry this out in the next game against Balestier. Hopefully players like Fazli [Ayob], Fareez [Farhan] and Sahil [Suhaimi] are available so I may have options up front."
DPMM are back in action next Monday when they take on Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jurong East Stadium.