14 July 2020

DPMM FC coach heaps praise on Brunei’s handling of COVID-19

by Fadhil Yunus

DPMM FC Head Coach Adrian Pennock heaped praise on the authorities’ handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Brunei Darussalam.
“I think a lot of credit had got to go with the Minister of Health. He has done a fantastic job by keeping the virus at bay,” said Pennock during an interview with the Bulletin after a training session at the Jerudong Mini Stadium yesterday.
He added, “We respect the Minister of Health and the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports’ decision because they’ve been right from day one. They’ve been very good.”
The club entered a fifth week since they resumed training but without the use of the ball in line with existing guidelines from the authorities.
“This is our fifth week now. The first couple of weeks were just like a pre-season. We’ve been doing like pre-season but with no footballs.”
The Gegar Gegar men have also followed the guideline on team sports whereby a limit of five players in a group has been capped.
Training has been identical with pre-season activities such as hill runs, trek walking, gym work and now swimming – which has been allowed recently – with social distancing in place.
Pennock is also effusive in his praise of his charges as the players returned to a form of training.
“The boys have been fantastic and they have been unbelievable. I love every single player because they worked so hard.”
With the squad comprising 22 players, improvised training arrangements saw limited numbers on the field with several groups being formed.
“We respect what the Minister of Health said about social distancing. We just do everything by the book and respect everybody’s decision.
“We want to get back to playing football but the health and safety of everybody connected to this country is more important.”
The Ipswich-born shared the first couple of weeks have been about “putting in a lot of mileage in the legs by doing a lot more long-distance running”.
“After the third or fourth week, we have been doing a lot sharper,” said Pennock as they shifted from merely running on a straight line.
Pennock also praised Fitness Coach Jason Moriarty, who joined the club in pre-season ahead of the currently-suspended Singapore Premier League (SPL).
“Jason Moriarty has been fantastic. Obviously it’s difficult for him and me not having any balls to work with. Jason has been first-class as well as all the staff here.”
He also spoke highly of Goalkeeping Coach Jorgeiraa who has found ways to train the goalkeepers without the use of the ball.
“Jorgeiraa has been having the goalkeepers once or twice a week where he pretended to have a ball and use a training disc as an example.”

06 June 2020

Paul Smalley ends stint as Brunei’s head coach

by Fadhil Yunus
The National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) and Brunei Darussalam’s head coach Paul Smalley have agreed to part ways by mutual consent, with the Englishman ending a six-month stint at the national governing body.
Smalley’s sudden departure came amid the uncertainties brought about by impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which effectively resulted in all football-related activities nationwide coming to a standstill.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Federation even though it has been for a short period and the challenges with COVID-19. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the President, General Secretary, my colleagues in NFABD especially the Technical Development Department, as well as the coaches and staff at all levels who have supported me so well,” he said.
Smalley, who also served as the Head of Player and Coach Development, has contributed to the development of the country’s football by providing knowledge to the local coaches through his expertise in coaching education as well as assisting them get their coaching badges.
He played an instrumental role in leading the National Programme for Coaching and Education and Learning of Coaches in Brunei for 2020.
The former technical and strategic director of the Bangladesh Football Federation has guided local coaches in line with NFABD’s vision to provide aspiring coaches with training, support and guidance to succeed in both club and international coaching at the highest level.
During his tenure, Paul Smalley conducted two coaching refresher courses participated by 43 qualified coaches who met the required revalidation requirements to keep their accreditation valid and current.
He also conducted two ‘C’ Coaching Certificate courses, one ‘B’ Coaching Certificate course, one ‘A’ Coaching Certificate course and one Coach Educator course, which brought NFABD to achieve AFC Coaching Convention B Diploma status.
President of NFABD Pengiran Haji Matusin bin Pengiran Haji Matasan said, “On behalf of NFABD, we thank Paul for his high standard of professionalism. NFABD appreciates his contribution.
“It is most unfortunate that there are uncertainties and unprecedented anxieties brought about by COVID-19. NFABD wishes Paul Smalley well in his future undertakings.”
Smalley was formally announced as the new national head coach for Brunei Darussalam last November. He has not had the opportunity to take charge of the national team in any international match as there had been no exhibition or competitive matches since his appointment.

08 May 2020

NFABD sets up workout drills for players

Fadhil Yunus
With the football season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) through its Technical Development Department prepared visual material on training drills to guide all football players for their individual workouts.
As all group training sessions are currently suspended in line with the government’s measure to curb the spread of the pandemic, players have to train on their own to keep their fitness levels high.
The national football governing body in a statement said, “Maintaining top-level fitness and skills is crucial for our football players. You can’t expect to win your games if you can’t perform well.”
The five-minute instructional video shows a series of football routines as well as warm-ups and exercises designed to help players build momentum throughout Ramadhan and until the country is officially COVID-19 free.
Some of the routines include repetitive motions of the sole roll and the outside foot roll for both feet, a 60-second no-touch stepovers and Brazilian taps as well as single leg V drags and V drag exchange.
The individual workout will help players develop their dribbling and ball control as well as balance and coordination.
For a longer routine, players may also perform variations of the dynamic ball mastery which encourage them to work on their touches.
Using football cones, players can also improve their dribbling skills, while one-touch passing and receiving the ball is also known to be a popular football drill. After ball work, players may focus on working on their upper body strength through push-ups and lower body strength through squats as well as a core exercise through planking.
NFABD have been advocating the stay-at-home initiative in support of the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and FIFA as the global football community join forces to combat the spread of the pandemic.
Last month, President of NFABD Pengiran Haji Matusin bin Pengiran Haji Matasan lauded the BreakTheChain video campaign, which was launched by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The video, which involved iconic Asian football stars, raised awareness to combat the spread of the pandemic and served to convey their gratitude to the frontliners.

11 April 2020

Tabuan look to add experience in Super League

Fadhil Yunus
Brunei Darussalam’s national development team Tabuan have returned to the Brunei Super League (BSL) this season looking to add experience in their bags.
After a year-long absence, the NFABD Under-16 Youth League champions recorded their first win in the BSL over Panchor Murai FC 2-1 at the Tutong Sports Complex last month before the COVID-19-enforced break.
As part of the league’s expansion with 16 teams taking part, Tabuan made their return to the top flight since the 2017-2018 season, when they finished in sixth place.
The national development team head coach Haji Omar bin Jamil hopes their participation in Brunei’s top tier will help them ready for future international matches.
Tabuan’s Technical Advisor Izzat bin Omar, during a pre-season press conference in January said, “It is a good opportunity and platform for us to play at a high level against the senior players. The boys are looking forward in the tournament as this will help their preparation in the international events.
He added, “Everyone will have the exposure to develop in this tournament. The boys can also learn from all the other teams.”
In their first match last month, Tabuan left it fashionably late after Panchor Murai had threatened to come away with all three points.
Sharul bin Haji Sabtu gave Panchor Murai the lead two minutes before half-time as his side looked on course for victory until Tabuan provided a late response.
Tabuan marksman Syaherrul Affendy bin Syahmirul Nizam continued his ruthless streak from the youth league last season after stabbing home the equaliser in the 80th minute. They found the winner through Mohd Irfan Roshidi deep into stoppage time.
Arguably a team with the youngest average age, the national development team also has a quartet of 15-year-olds in their ranks namely Hafy Herman, Malik Norazlan, Hazwan Hasmi and Md Syafiq bin Shahrin.
Meanwhile, BSRC are also making their return to the top flight. In recent seasons, the Belait-based side were among the teams challenging for promotion in the Brunei Premier League, the second tier of Brunei football.
BSRC have had a mixed start so far this campaign in their opening two fixtures after a 3-1 win over Bakes FC followed with a 2-3 loss to KB FC in the Belait District Derby.
The Brunei Super League has been suspended since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

27 March 2020

Indera SC’s ACC debut deferred to 2021

Fadhil Yunus
Indera SC will not make their maiden appearance in the inaugural ASEAN Club Championship (ACC) in the coming months following the recent announcement that the regional competition had been re-scheduled to next year amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Brunei Super League outfit were due to represent the country in the club football competition, which will involve 10 match days spread over five months in the regional schedule.
The remaining clubs that were scheduled to take part are Thailand teams Chiangrai United and Prachuap, Vietnamese teams Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, Indonesian teams Bali United and Persebaya, Singapore’s Tampines Rovers, Myanmar’s Shan United, Philippines’ Ceres-Negros, Cambodia’s Svay Rieng and Laos’ Lao Toyota.
Indera’s participation in the regional scene was made possible after meeting Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Club Licensing requirements, which allowed them entry in the AFC Cup earlier this year.
The Brunei-based outfit were drawn in the playoff stage alongside Ceres-Negros, Svay Rieng and Lao Toyota where they will try to secure a berth in the group stage.
The national leagues under the purview of the AFF member nations have already been suspended with the Singapore Premier League the latest to make the move in line with the updated guideline set by the country’s COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
“With the ASEAN Club Championship been slotted into 10 match days over five months in the regional schedule, it’s now clear that with the prevailing conditions and the pending rescheduling of many AFF national leagues and AFC competitions, yet to be decided, that there will not be sufficient time to complete the inaugural championship this year. All members can now plan for the launch in 2021,” the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) said.
AFF President Major General Khiev Sameth said, “These are unprecedented times for the whole world, including our football family and communities, but we will get through it together. However, getting through this will require all of us to play our part.”
The president added with the high risk of transmission of the disease at mass gatherings, they have made the decision to delay and whenever necessary to cancel the competitions.
The AFF has also confirmed that tournaments sanctioned under them including the under-16 and under-19 championships both in Indonesia which Brunei are also expected to feature, will be postponed until later this year.
Meanwhile, the two competitions that have seen involvement by the Brunei national futsal team and a local futsal club in recent years – the AFF Futsal Championship and the AFF Futsal Club Championship – will go ahead as planned.

08 March 2020

DPMM FC register perfect start in title defence

By Fadhil Yunus
DPMM FC rose up to the challenge against their well-recruited rivals and title contenders after masterminding a superb 2-0 win over Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Premier League at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
A goal each from Charlie Clough and Andrei Varankou in either side of the half gave the home side a much-needed lift in their league opener after a delayed start to the season.
The club’s young player Hanif Farhan Azman’s meteoric rise from the team that featured in the Brunei second tier last year was confirmed after he was handed his debut in the heart of midfield alongside new foreign import goalkeeper Emerson.
The visitors found the gap in between the defence with influential winger Jordan Webb racing into the box but Emerson foiled his attempt with a smart save.
Tampines’ forward Zehrudin Mehmedovic proved a tricky customer as he produced a delightful ball into the path of Boris Kopitovic who managed to get his shot only into the arms of Emerson.
The hosts took the lead after Charlie Clough planted a looping header beyond the Tampines goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari after Hendra Azam Idris had floated in an excellent delivery from a set-piece.
Varankou managed to keep down a lofted ball but Tampines defender Shannon Stephen put his body on the line to prevent him from taking a shot before the former picked out to Abdul Azizi Ali Rahman, who was denied by good goalkeeping from Syazwan.
Tampines forward Kopitovic forced another fierce strike on target from a tight angle following good work in the middle of the park from Mehmedovic.
The visitors made a response to falling behind with a double substitution as head coach Gavin Lee introduced attacking-minded duo Kyoga Nakamura and Taufik Suparno into the fray.
DPMM FC dead ball specialist Hendra produced a teasing cross into the box but tight marking from a Tampines defender ensured that Varankou could not get his header cleanly. The visitors were robbed off possession after a misplaced pass as Abdul Azizi’s attempt took a deflection for a corner with Hendra again central to the threat.
From the ensuing corner, Charlie Clough’s header across the box was nearly guided into the roof of the net from a Tampines player but only the crossbar saved them from an own goal.
The Gegar Gegar men wrapped up victory with a potential Singapore Premier League classic four minutes from time after Varankou outplayed the visiting defence through a moment of individual brilliance before following up with a low finish past the goalkeeper.

23 February 2020

Brunei DPMM will not play in Community Shield due to its 'travel restrictions' over COVID-19: FAS

SINGAPORE: Defending champions Brunei DPMM will not participate in the curtain-raiser for the upcoming Singapore Premier League (SPL) season due to "precautionary travel restrictions" by the club, said the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Monday (Feb 17).
"The FAS has been notified by Brunei DPMM FC of its precautionary travel restrictions in light of the current COVID-19 situation," said the association in response to queries from CNA.
"As such DPMM will not be able to play Tampines Rovers FC at this weekend’s Community Shield match. The FAS is reviewing all options and more information will be shared shortly."
The AIA Community Shield match between Brunei DPMM and Tampines Rovers was originally slated to be held on Saturday at the Jalan Besar stadium.
DPMM have won the league twice, finishing as runners-up on two occasions.
Last week, the FAS had announced that the upcoming SPL season will proceed as planned, with measures such temperature screening to be carried out at entry points to stadiums.
These measures are being introduced in light of the "rapidly evolving situation" due to COVID-19, said the FAS. It has since established a task force to determine the protocols and advisories for its activities amid this outbreak. 
As part of the FAS DORSCON protocol for level Orange, mass events of 300 people or more - such as SPL matches - will continue, with measures in place such as temperature screening at entry points of venue. 
Any fan who displays symptoms of respiratory illness such as flu, cough or shortness of breath will be denied entry to the stadium, said FAS. Entry will also be denied to any fan with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher.
In addition, all carnival activities, festivals and non-essential football events will be cancelled, said FAS. There is also the possibility that matches may be played behind closed doors.