FOUR non-league teams will battle it out for a place in the first round of the DST Group Brunei FA Cup on March 1.
Not since the 2004/05 season have non-league teams been given the opportunity to play in the competition, and the four sides will do their best to prove that they are worth of their places.
Viva Rangers face off against Rimba Star FC on March 1 while Sabli's FC and Peninjau FC take to the field the next day.
The winners of the two matches face each other for a spot in the tournament proper on March 5, with all three games set to be held at the Berakas Sports Complex in Berakas.
The knock-out competition will enter its first round on March 15 when the sole non-league team will be drawn with the 11 DST Group Brunei Premier League II (BPL II) teams.
The winners of the six matches will advance to the second round on March 27, where they will meet the 10 teams from BPL I.
It will be an open draw every round until the semi-finals. The final is slated for April 17, with the last date to submit team lists on Feb 25.
Yesterday's draw was made by DST Group Brunei FA Cup's chairman Liew Chuan Fue at the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) office in Kiulap, after which FFBD secretariat Johari Hj Bungsu explained the competition's rules and regulations.
Of particular interest to the managers in attendance was the ban on transfers, with FFBD's 'no open transfer window' policy meaning that players have to play for the clubs they registered with at the beginning of the season.
Johari also outlined the reasons why non-league clubs have not featured in the FA Cup for the past five years.
"It is a problem of quality," he said.
"On and off the field, the clubs have to show professionalism and must have a high standard of management.
"This includes punctuality and adherence to the rules," he said, adding that in the past non-league clubs had failed to submit their start lists half-an-hour before matches.
Looking at what is up for grabs, the teams have all the motivation to keep the organisers happy.
The FA Cup champions will receive a challenge trophy, individual medals and $3,000 while the runners-up will receive individual medals and $2,000.
The Royal Brunei Armed Forces' Sports Council (MS ABDB) are the competition's reigning champions, beating Wijaya FC 1-0 in final of the 2007/08 season.
The competition was not held last year.
The Brunei Times