BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Thursday, October 20, 2011
SEA Games football draw confirms Brunei's participation
Sultanate in Group B and opens campaign against Timor Leste on Nov 5 in Jakarta
IT WAS a double dose of good news for the national Under-23 football team yesterday after it was confirmed they will be competing at next month's 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Indonesia.
Not only will they be taking to the 88,083 capacity Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, they have also been handed a favourable draw after being pooled in Group B.
The Sultanate will face Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines and Timor Leste in the Nov 11-22 biennial multi-sport event, though the football competition will kick off on Nov 3 with Vietnam taking on the Philippines.
Runners-up in 2009, Vietnam were one of the two seeded teams in the draw which was held yesterday in Jakarta by the Indonesia SEA Games Organising Committee (Inasoc) and telecast live by Indonesia's Studio 4 RCTI (Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia).
The other seeded team, defending champions Malaysia were drawn in the group of death with hosts Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia in Group A.
The top-two countries in each group will progress to the semi-finals, with the final slated for Nov 21.
The Lebak Bulus Stadium, south of Jakarta, will also play host to the 11-team competition.
Brunei start their campaign on Nov 5 in their most winnable match on paper, at least against Timor Leste, where a positive result will be a confidence booster ahead of their second game against Laos just two days later.
They face Myanmar on Nov 9, Vietnam on Nov 11 and the Philippines on Nov 15.
Unless they defy the odds and qualify for the Nov 19 semi-finals, the Timor Leste tie will be the only one that Brunei will play at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
On Aug 10 The Brunei Times reported that the country might send a team to the Games, which is probably why a new Under-23 side were formed.
The Games will be the country's biggest test since Fifa lifted its 20-month suspension on the Sultanate in May.
Training since July for the event, this year's SEA Games will mark the country's return to the competition after 10 years. Brunei last saw action at the 2001 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, the tournament in the Malaysian capital also the first time the competition was held in an Under-23 format.
Thailand have won the competition a record 13 times, followed by Malaysia and Myanmar with five a statistic that stretches back to 1959 when the event was then known as the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games.
Malaysia won gold in the 2009 SEA Games in Laos when they defeated Vietnam 1-0 in the final with an own goal by Vietnam's Mai Xuan Hop handing the Asean champions their first SEA Games title in 20 years. The Brunei Times