16 September 2011

Painful lessons for U-19 football

BRUNEI will be eager to put the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Championship behind them as soon as possible.

The national team bowed out of the competition in Myanmar with a 10-0 thrashing at the hands of Indonesia yesterday, the result their fourth loss in as many Group B games. More tellingly though, they shipped 30 goals and never found the back of the net.

They started with a 7-0 loss to Vietnam on Thursday and fell by the same scoreline to Laos on Saturday.

Their third game was a 6-0 defeat to Myanmar on Monday.

Needless to say, they end with the worst record in the 10-team tournament and are the only country not to have scored.

On the flip side though, the hastily-formed team only had a little more than a month to prepare for the Sept 8-21 event.

Indonesia has previously fell 6-1 to Vietnam but judging from yesterday's result, the Indonesians' loss to Vietnam did nothing to prove that Brunei are at the former's standard.

Brunei's first international competition since Fifa lifted its 20-month suspension on May 20, the competition has given the Sultanate a harsh lesson in reality and provides no illusions as to how they stand up against their Southeast Asian counterparts.

It is just as well that Brunei are now eligible for funding from Fifa and its regional bodies because it is painfully obvious that cash must be pumped into grassroots development programmes like Brunei Youth Team (BYT), Projek Ikan Pusu and Muara Vella FC's academy.

BYT has been a shining light in junior football, with the 20-man team which returned from the 39th Under-18 Asian Schools Football Championship in Thailand on Monday represented by 18 BYT players.

They reached the quarter-finals of the 12-team event and were unlucky to face the hosts for a spot in the semi-finals, a duel which they lost 5-0.

They had scored 15 times and let in 12, with Muhd Fakhrul Tamimi Hj Sahari ending the tournament as top-scorer with six goals five of them in their 13-0 win against Pakistan in the opener.

Though Muhd Fakhrul Tamimi could probably teach his Under-19 counterparts a thing or two about scoring, their defense was equally in need of guidance letting in six goals before the break yesterday.

According to the AFF website, Syahru Ramadhan started the goal-fest in the 10th minute, with Rahmat Johani Saputro (27th and 28th minute), Zoel Fhadli (29th and 44th) and Rahmadana (36th) also getting on the scoreheet at the Aung San Stadium in Yangon.

Zoel and Rahmat completed their hat tricks with goals in the 54th and 57th minutes respectively, before Dian Ardiansyah nailed a brace in the 60th and 73rd minute.

Yesterday's other result saw nine-men Myanmar edge Laos 1-0, the result pushing Myanmar to second in Group B.

Vietnam currently lead the five-team group, though they are on seven points like Myanmar.

In the last round of Group B games tomorrow, Vietnam face third-placed Laos and fourth-placed Indonesia take on Myanmar.

In Group A action, leaders Thailand beat Cambodia 5-0 on Tuesday while second-placed Malaysia crushed Singapore 6-0.

Thailand are at the top of Group A with six points followed by Malaysia with four.

Today's Group A games will see third-placed Cambodia battle fifth-placed Singapore and fourth-placed Philippines go head to head with Thailand.

The final day of group-stage matches on Saturday will see Malaysia meet the Philippines and Singapore take on Thailand.

The top two teams from each group progress to Monday's semi-finals, with the champion to be decided two days later.The Brunei Times

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