BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Thursday, June 2, 2011
BY NOW any local football fan worth his or her salt should have heard that Fifa has finally lifted its suspension on Brunei.
It was an isolation from international football which started on 30 September 2009 and only ended on Tuesday a good 20 months later.
But what does this mean for the average follower of the beautiful game in the country?
DPMM FC is back in business.
Though it had nothing to do with them, Brunei's only professional club took the brunt of the beating when Fifa first revealed the suspension during its Executive Committee meeting in Brazil two long years ago.
Just months before in June, the side had become the first Bruneian football team in a decade to lift a major piece of silverware the Singapore League Cup while playing in their debut Singapore League (S-League) campaign.
They silenced critics and naysayers alike with a gritty 4-3 penalty shoot-out win against Singapore Armed Forces FC, the result marking them out as the first foreign team to lift a trophy in Singapore football.
They only had five S-League games left in the season but when Fifa announced the suspension, it spelt the end of their fairy-tale.
Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke sent a letter saying that the club could not play in the S-League, and the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) hands were tied.
The world governing body had earlier given written approval that DPMM FC would be able to play in the 2009 season, so FAS was just as disappointed that the club could not finish what they had started.
But now that Brunei is back on the global stage under the auspices of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), DPMM FC is eyeing a return to competitive football.
"The S-League has always been waiting for DPMM FC," said acting club manager Pg Waslimin PSJ Pg Hj Abd Momin on Tuesday after hearing that the suspension was lifted.
"They hope that we can come back... Will we come back? I'm not sure right now - it's too early to tell.
"I know the club's website says we have a few players coming for trials this month but nothing is confirmed yet, we'll have to wait and see.
"The team has always been training two times a week under coaches Norilham Hj Jais and Hj Zainol Ariffin Hj Jumat," he added.
Getting the players match-fit shouldn't be a problem; the club have 22 players in this season's DST Group Brunei Premier League (BPL).
The players should all be breathing a sigh of relief that they will be able to suit up in the black and red of DPMM FC, putting to bed a nightmare which started in November 2008 when the former ruling body for the sport in the Sultanate, the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (Bafa), was deregistered by the Registrar of Societies for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested.
DPMM FC had earlier been playing in the Malaysian Super League but was banned in December 2008 by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) after they heard that Bafa was deregistered, initiating a move to the S-League in time for the start of the season in February 2009.
Pg Waslimin was relieved that the club and country can finally start thinking about competitive football again.
"I would like to say thank you to Fifa for lifting the suspension on Brunei," he said.
"Now we have to make full use of this to develop Brunei football and compete (abroad) once again.
"To all the fans, thank you for helping get Brunei back into the international football arena."
The Brunei Times