DPMM FC players good to go for S-League kick off

SINGAPORE - DPMM FC's players have all been declared fit for next month's Singapore League (S-League).

Last season's S-League runners-up were faced with a dilemma at the start of the 2012 campaign when eight of their players failed to make the grade during the mandatory fitness test.

There were no such problems during this year's edition though, when six S-League officials conducted the Cooper test at DPMM FC's Jerudong Mini Stadium yesterday morning.

The test was created in 1968 by American Dr Ken Cooper and is meant to gauge the distance the participants could cover in 12 minutes.

The S-League version, though, requires the players to run 2.4km in 10.15 minutes.

A bonus was given for those that completed the run in less than nine minutes, and DPMM FC's coach felt that more players would have received the $100 bonus if they had known about it earlier.

"Everybody passed, there were no problems," said Vjeran Simunic.

"Helmi (midfielder Md Helmi Zambin) did it in less than nine minutes and he got $100.

"But many other players were close to Helmi's time. Shahrazen (striker Shahrazen Said) was three seconds off the mark and Najip (midfielder Md Najip Hj Tarif) was two seconds.

"If they knew about the reward, I'm sure half of them would have done it in less than nine minutes," added the Croatian.

The Cooper test marks a move away from the much-criticised beep test which was used by the S-League last year.

A gauge of cardiovascular fitness, the multistage beep test requires the players to run between 20m spaced cones, with their speed increasing in accordance to increasing beeps.

With the fitness test now out of the way, Simunic (pic), who won the S-League Coach of the Year award last season, is turning his attention to more pressing matters.

The S-League season starts on February 20, and though the fixture list has not been made public, DPMM FC are making sure they will be match-fit by embarking on a trip to Vietnam this week where they will play friendly games against three Vietnamese sides.

They face Dong Thap FC on Sunday, TP Ho Chi Minh FC on Monday and Saigon Xuan Thanh FC on Wednesday.

After only having one pre-season match last year, a 2-1 win over Thai Premier League side Chiangrai United FC , the decision by the club's management to make the trip to Ho Chi Minh City proves how serious the team are taking their S-League preparations.

"Now the second thing, very important, is how we play the games in Vietnam," said Simunic, who is well-versed with Vietnamese football after coaching Vietnamese side Ho Chi Minh City FC in 2011 before his second stint with DPMM FC.

"We're expecting 30,000 people to watch the games.

"They like football very much in Vietnam and not many famous foreign sides like us have played there.

"We are representing the Singapore League, and the Vietnamese know it is a very well respected league."The Brunei Times

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