Regarding the import ban, which is yet to be confirmed, by FFBD on the BPL, the coach was on the fence about the subject.
"One way to look at it is our locals will benefit from it, because more will be able to play. This is in line with every team's target of giving birth to talented local players that will be able to represent Brunei in future competitions.
"However there is a downside to this. Imports are brought in because their skills and abilities are able to improve the team's performance. The team as a whole are able to share this knowledge between themselves. Plus the exposure to imports will be beneficial to the locals who play against them, helping to boost their confidence," said the manager.
SINCE the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) officially took over the reins of Brunei football, it has received a luke warm response from the public.
The negative criticism has largely come on the back of the international football ban, imposed by the International Federation of Football Association (Fifa) at its executive committee meeting in Rio de Janeiro on Sept 29.
However, FFBD's secretary-general, Sheikh Nordin Sheikh Mohamad, would like football fans to understand that the federation has nothing to do whith what happened in Rio.
"Our hands are tied regarding the subject. We are only involved in football and the ban is beyond our jurisdiction," said Sheikh Nordin.
"Those decisions were done by the relevant authorities and we have to respect that. Until there are any changes, FFBD will continue to run football in the country," said the secretary-general.
And it is not like the new football body has been merely sitting on its hands. So far, the federation has successfully run the U-14 National League, U-16 National League, DST Group Brunei Premier League (BPL) I/II, Champions' Cup, DST Group Brunei League Cup and the DST Group Brunei FA Cup in its very first year in charge.
"I have to thank our sponsors for making this season a success. Without the financial support of our main sponsor, DST Group and not to mention Brunei Shell Petroleum Company and Brunei LNG, it would not have been possible," said Sheikh Nordin.
Officially set up on Jan 14 last year, FFBD was formed by local football enthusiasts who had development in mind.
"We had a strong setup from the start. FFBD president and vice-president, Dato Paduka Hj Md Hamid Hj Md Jaafar and Hj Salleh Bustamam Hj Zainal Abidin respectively are both individuals that want to see the Sultanate become a force to be reckoned with in football. Even Hj Md Rosanan Abdullah Samak, Liew Chuan Fue and others, who were among the 1999 Malaysia Cup winners, have jumped on the bandwagon. If they didn't believe in our vision, this won't have been possible."
The secretary-general went on to outlay his plans for the upcoming season.
"Currently we are wondering whether import players should still be allowed. There is no point if only one team can afford them. It's causing an imbalance within the league and we would like it to be fair for all. These are changes that are made to improve the overall quality of the league. The matter is not finalised yet though but if it does come into effect, it would be in the forthcoming season," said Sheikh Nordin.
If the rule does come to fruition, it would be detrimental for QAF FC. The three-times BPL I champions will be forced out of the services of Cameroonian Viban Francis Bayong, the BPL I top-scorer for the last three years running.
"We will also be holding a Futsal league at the end of the year. Originally planned for last year, FFBD weren't able to run it due to the time constraint and we weren't able to secure a venue yet," he said.
On the topic of referees, Sheikh Nordin acknowledged there were room for improvements.
"It would be better if there were more quality referees that are well versed in the laws of the game. That is why FFBD we are working hard to have better relations with match officials," said Sheikh Nordin.
As the FIFA World Cup is going to be the biggest football tournament this year, FFBD also plans to hold a World Cup-themed competition.
"In conjunction with the World Cup, FFBD will be hosting a football carnival for U-13 and U-10.
It will be held in conjunction with the school holidays. This is one of our efforts at developing football talent from a young age," said Sheikh Nordin.
The secretary-general then closed the interview by stating, "It is our very fervent hope that Fifa will lift the ban and recognise the federation soon. If they could only witness what FFBD have accomplished in it's debut season. I believe Fifa only want the best for Brunei football and currently, with the effort FFBD have put into local football, we are on course toward that goal."
THE FA Cup curse continues for Brunei giants QAF FC. Playing in their first DST Group Brunei FA Cup final, the Brunei Premier League I champions were left crying in the rain when arch-rivals the Royal Brunei Armed Forces' Sports Council (MS ABDB) beat them 2-1 to keep their crown.
QAF FC, who are the BPL I champions, the Champions Cup winners and the DST Group Brunei League Cup holders, went into last night's final at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas looking to create history by capturing a quadruple. But their dreams were shattered by poor defence.
QAF FC conceded two early goals, via Md Amalul Ariffin Shah Said's and Rosmin Hj Md Kamis's headers.
Vivan Francis Bayong's unexpected rocket in the 61st minute would cut the deficit, but the armymen held their nerves to make it a successful title defence.
Lt Col Dr Bahrin Hj Bintang, the manager of MS ABDB, was probably the happiest man at the stadium beaming from ear to ear after the match.
"Tonight's hard-earned victory makes us the three-time champions of the FA Cup. We have also been in six consecutive finals. Witnessing the players' spirited performance tonight, they really deserve to win it.
"The hardest obstacle we had to face in this match was QAF FC's import player. We played a fantastic first half, but Vivan's goal disrupted our rhythm," said the MS ABDB manager.
"QAF FC worked hard to win their first FA Cup, but MS ABDB were there to stop them."
QAF FC's coach, Md Ali Mustafa, does not share Lt Col Dr Bahrin's sentiments though, feeling his team were the 'winners'.
"I am very proud of my players. They gave a good performance. If it wasn't for the early mistakes that led to the goals in the first half, we would have won (the game) as we were dominant in the second.
"Though we did not win the Cup, I believe that we won the match. QAF FC have the best players of all," said Md Ali.
MS ABDB broke the hearts of AM Gunners FC with a 2-1 victory, thanks to a late 87th minute headed goal by Md Safari Wahit, to qualify for the DST Group Brunei FA Cup finals at the Berakas Sports Complex last night.
The Royal Brunei Armed Forces' Sports Council (MS ABDB) maintained a 1-0 lead for most of the match via Md Sardillah Hj Abdullah's goal in the first half, only for ex-DPMM FC player Hj Md Subhi Abdillah Hj Bakir to equalise in the 79th minute for the Gunners.
Just when it seemed like the match was heading into extra-time, Md Safari provided the winning goal to give MS ABDB its sixth FA Cup final appearance since the competition's inception in 2002.
"It was a very good match overall. I thought our first half performance was better than the second. I guess it was the fact that we were more experienced that we were able to triumph tonight," said Lt Col Dr Bahrin Hj Bintang, MS ABDB's manager.
"We have already won it twice in 2003 and 2007 so we want more. This campaign is made more difficult as our squad is currently plagued with injuries. Some of our men are actually playing in positions which they are not used to," added the manager.
Asked of final-opponent QAF FC, the manager answered, "Well you can say that they are our common rival. So we just want to perform at our best in the final."
The FA Cup final will be contested at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas on Saturday, Apr 17.
WHEN a defence is this bad, it deserves to get flayed. And that is exactly what happened last nigh to a shell shocked NBT FC after they had already given up three goals in the opening four minutes of action.
QAF FC went on to batter a hapless NBT 7-1 enroute to their first FA Cup final.
Mardi Bujang and Adie Arsham Muhd Salleh scored braces and Ak Md Kamarul Ariffin Pg Ramlee, Hardi Bujang and Riwandi Wahit also got on the scoresheet for the reigning Brunei Premier League I champions.
"I think this has been one of our best performances in this tournament," beamed QAF FC's manager Rahim Hj Daud after the match at the Berakas Sports Complex.
THE International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) yesterday said that Brunei "can be back in international football in 2012".
On Monday the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) explained that the Sultanate has two alternatives if it wants to remain a part of the global football community, with the second option calling for a new body to officially apply to Fifa and AFC.
The first option called for the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (Bafa) to be re-registered by local authorities, and the normal course of action would be Fifa in consultation with the AFC would appoint an interim committee which might be at the recommendation of current Brunei football stakeholders.
"Yes (the second option is viable), but as a precision, the application of a new body can come only after the first body has been expelled," said Fifa's Director of member associations Thierry Regenass in an email to The Brunei Times yesterday.
"That means that a new association could only expect to join Fifa and play in international competition after mid 2012," he added.
According to the AFC, the new national association (the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam) has only sent a letter to Asia's governing body for the sport to announce its formation and intention to apply for membership.
NORILHAM Hj Jais is betting on Indera FC's team chemistry to see them through tonight's DST Group Brunei FA Cup quarter-final match against AM Gunners FC.
The match at the Berakas Sports Complex will be the ex-DPMM FC assistant coach's seventh match in charge of Indera, and he said he has seen marked changes in the side.
Two ex-DPMM FC players, Helmi Zambin and Azwan Salleh, helped Indera to a 3-2 result over Majra FC in the second round on Tuesday.
Left winger Sairol Hj Sahari makes up the third player in the trio of ex-DPMM midfielders currently playing for Indera, but Norilham downplayed suggestions that it was the DPMM FC connection that won the match.
"It's not just the ex-DPMM FC players. I can see the connection between the DPMM players and non-DPMM FC players and it is phenomenal!" he said.
"I am really impressed with the team since my first match in charge and the players know how to adjust.
"A lot of them are friends ... so they know each other quite well. I can see no problem. I am very optimistic," he added.
After a 1-0 defeat to league leaders QAF FC in his first match in charge on Jan 13, Norilham steered Indera to two wins, a draw and a loss, eventually finishing sixth in the 10-team DST Group Brunei Premier League I.
The coach will be aiming for his first win over AM Gunners, with the previous two encounters ending in a draw and a loss.
AM Gunners FC beat Indera 4-2 in their first round match on Aug 5, with the second round game on Feb 15 a 1-1 draw after Sairol's penalty cancelled out a Md Nazlee Pehin Dato Hj Jaafar strike.
With a mid-table finish in the league, Norilham said he was hoping to make up for it in the FA Cup.
"I know the boys can do the job. They are hungry for the Cup even though the finish in the league wasn't that excellent," said Norilham.
"I told them to treat every game like the final, and if they want to get the trophy, hard work is the answer.
"I have always told the boys they must maintain their discipline during games; both offensively and defensively. Good defence will win championships," he added.
Finishing third in the league in their debut campaign, AM Gunners can also count on the experience of two ex-DPMM FC midfielders in Hj Muhd Subhi Abdillah Hj Bakir and Rosmini Kahar.
ROYAL Brunei Armed Forces' Sports Council (MS ABDB) showed exactly why they are the defending DST Group Brunei FA Cup champions by crushing Brunei Shell FT (BSFT) 8-1 at the Berakas Sports Complex last night, booking their spot in the quarterfinals.
Abd Azizi Ali Rahman scored a hat-trick while skipper Rosmin Hj Md Kamis came through with a pair of goals.
THE Asian Football Confederation yesterday suggested that Brunei has alternatives if it wants to remain a part of the global football community.
Though the first option is nothing new, the second is a bolt from the blue since the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) has always insisted that it is Bafa or nothing for them.
"The first option is that Bafa will continue to be the official member (and) it will nominate an interim body which Fifa will consider," AFC's Director of Communications & Media, Sean Tohidi, told the Brunei Times yesterday.
"Fifa will need to approve this interim body in consultation from AFC. The interim body will run the operation until the new board is elected.
"The second option is that a new organising body will need to officially apply to Fifa and AFC. Once it has been accepted as a "provisional member" it will have no voting rights for at least two years.
"Traditionally, the application is first accepted by Fifa and then considered by AFC but the application can be submitted simultaneously. "They (Brunei) have sent a letter to AFC announcing the formation of the new body. I am unsure if they have officially applied to become a member," added Tohidi.
Tohidi said that the second option was just as acceptable for Fifa and AFC, a move which must count as a major concession on their part. "What they (Fifa and AFC) want is what is best for football," said Tohidi. "That Brunei is represented ... Brunei in competitions," Tohidi said.
Though he wasn't aware of its existence, the "new body" that Tohidi was probably referring to was the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD). Having elected its members early last year, FFBD is recognised locally as the new controlling body for football in Brunei and has been organising national leagues at several age-groups, with the National Under-16 League coming to a close last Saturday and the DST Group Brunei FA Cup currently in its second round.
It might not be recognised by Fifa or AFC but that could be set to change. Article 3.9 of the AFC Statutes state that "Provisional" and "Associate" members shall be entitled to all the privileges of a Member Association except the right to vote at the Congress or the Extraordinary Congress and to hold office, meaning Brunei can be back in the international picture under FFBD.
QAF FC will clash head on with Liang Lumut Recreation Club Football Team (LLRC FT) in a DST Group Brunei FA Cup quarterfinal match which can be dubbed the battle of champions.
Set for promotion to the DST Group Brunei Premier League I (BPL I) next season, LLRC FT will get an early taste of the best that the top tier league of Brunei football has to offer.
Undefeated during the DST Group BPL II season, LLRC FT - who beat Muara Vella FC 2-1 last night to advance - have the unenviable task of facing BPL I champions QAF FC on Sunday (April 4).
The DST Group BPL II champions found out their fate yesterday when the FA Cup quarterfinals draw was held at the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) headquarters in Kiulap.
QAF FC showed how serious they were in their quest for the FA Cup by crushing second round opponents Wijaya FC 5-0 on Friday (March 26). BPL I's top scorer last season with 20 goals, Cameroonian Viban Francis Bayong continued his fine form by netting two goals in the match.
Chaired by FFBD secretariat Johari Hj Bungsu, Abdul Rahim Md Taib and Hj Md Hidayat Awg Hj Montil from the RTB Sport TV Unit were handed the honour of conducting the draws for actively supporting the BPL from the start. The first team drawn in the quarterfinals was Jerudong FC, who will meet either Brunei Shell FT or the Royal Brunei Armed Forces' Sports Council (MS ABDB) on Saturday, (April 3).
Originally slated for Friday, (April 2) the tie was postponed after taking into consideration that the players during the MS ABDB- Brunei Shell FT match tomorrow (Wednesday) would not have enough time to rest.
Therefore, the Friday slot will feature AM Gunners FC up against either Indera FC or Majra FC, who will be contesting for the spot tonight at the Berakas Sports Complex.
After Edi Ruslan Abd Samad and Md Nazri Hj Hassan fired the Gunners to a two-goal lead, second round opponents AH United equalised in the second half within the space of 10 minutes due to complacency on Sunday (March 28).
However, the Gunners recovered their form in time to end the match 5-2 in their favour. The final quarterfinal slot is reserved for Kilanas FC against NBT FC or Prisons Department on Saturday (April 3) at the Berakas Sports Complex.
Dangerously set for automatic relegation into the BPL II next season with the deciding match yet to be played, NBT FC will take on the undefeated second placed BPL II side Prisons Department at the Balapan Track and Field at 8.15pm tonight.