12 November 2011

It's do or die for Brunei's football team


Saturday, November 12, 2011

DAYEM Hj Ali (pic) knows it's now or never for Brunei.

The national Under-23 football team face Vietnam in a must-win Group B tie at the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here today, where only all three points at the Lebak Bulus Stadium will be enough to keep them in the running for a spot in next Saturday's semi-finals.

Victory against 2009 runners-up Vietnam would arguably be the upset of the tournament, but Brunei's winless coach isn't ruling anything out especially with his talismanic captain Azwan Muhd Salleh back in the fray after serving a one-match ban after picking up yellow cards in two consecutive games.

Azwan's presence in the centre of midfield was sorely missed in a misfiring Brunei side that lost 4-0 to Myanmar on Wednesday, and Dayem hopes his addition will be just the elixir Brunei need.

The Philippines' 3-2 win over Laos yesterday their first of the competition means Brunei are now at the bottom of the six-team Group B.

Though they, like Laos, have one draw and two losses to their name, the Sultanate prop up the table because of poorer goal difference.

Vietnam are second in the table, tied on points with Myanmar with seven, but below them in the standings because of the same reason.

"They are a tough team," Dayem said when asked whether Vietnam were the strongest side in Group B.

"But our key player (Azwan) is back and we will do the best we can and play to our plan.

"We know there is not a big difference in the playing style of Vietnam and Myanmar just perhaps Vietnam are stronger up front and have quicker strikers.

"This is the game we need to get a result, and Azwan has been telling the players the same thing. Otherwise our supporters in Brunei ... they know we have had two good games but just didn't perform against Myanmar.

"So we have to show we are in a positive position. The players are positive and they are all out to win the game.

"We didn't create scoring chances against Myanmar and in training this (Friday) morning we looked at the mistakes we made and we will repair them ... We promise, no more silly mistakes," said the coach.

Discipline has been a problem for the team, and though noone was sent off in their 2-1 loss in the opener to Timor Leste last Saturday, the 2-2 draw against Laos on Monday and the defeat to Myanmar two days later both saw players forced to take an early shower.

Centre-back Reduan Petara is eligible to play today after being shown a red card after quarter of an hour into their game against Laos, though right-back Muhammad Arif Ali Rahman who was sent off against Myanmar will only be allowed to take to the field against the Philippines on Tuesday.

Md Enddy Zulyady Awang Sapar will replace Arif today, with Azwan's inclusion relegating striker Mohamad Nazirul Nazreen Abdullah who started against Myanamr to the bench. Dayem confirmed Nazirul will be used as the first substitute if needed.

The team will welcome the news that National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam honorary president His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah who is also the President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council is expected to watch the match.

"I think his presence will give us moral support ... That is something we have not had a lot of," said Dayem.

"As for food poisoning, we have had none of that," said the coach when asked to comment on reports that players from various countries were down with food poisoning.

Yesterday's other matches saw Indonesia beat Singapore 2-0 at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta to move to top of Group A with two wins, with the day's second game a 4-0 win for Thailand over Cambodia.

The Brunei Times

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