03 December 2011

Let football league begin!

Azamri Zainal

Saturday, December 3, 2011

MS ABDB are out to finish the job.

Having been denied the league title last season, the armymen only have one mission in the new DST-National Football League 2011/2012 which kicks off today. To win the inaugural title.

MS ABDB, who were top of the old DST Group Brunei Premier League (BPL) I when it was halted on June 13, will be out to erase last season's disappointment and are confident they can succeed in the new league with their manager proclaiming that they are "the team to beat".

(The Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD), the ex-governing body for the sport in Brunei, but was not recognised by Fifa, was in June told to put a halt to all football competitions it endorsed including the BPL I. MS ABDB had a six-point lead when the season was ended prematurely).

MS ABDB, Major Suhaimi Jamali, told The Brunei Times yesterday: "We were supposed to be champions last season and I think we deserved it (the title) as we were already six points clear.

"We are again the team to beat (in the new league)," added the manager.

"But, we have a new challenge because four of our key players were called up to play for DPMM FC two weeks ago."

Major Suhaimi admitted that the loss would affect the team, especially since MS ABDB also lost their influential captain Rosmin Hj Khamis to the country's only professional football club.

"We will have to look for new players ... but I don't expect them (the new players) to perform immediately. Everyone can play well, but I feel we are not 100 per cent ready yet. We need two more weeks to train," said the team manager.

Despite this league rivals Indera SC still see MS ABDB as favourites for the title.

Indera's team manager Rosdin Hj Aziz, in an interview with the BT, predicted that MS ABDB and fellow local giants QAF FC would again dominate the new league.

"Indera SC will have to work hard if we are to perform well in the new league and gain automatic qualification to the Super League is a major priority."

Having said that, the manager admitted that they were in a tough group.

"We will not be playing against easy teams," said Rosdin.

Indera are drawn with seven other teams in Group C, which also includes MS ABDB and MS POLIS DB.

Like their rivals, Indera have also lost their players to DPMM FC as well as the national team.

"It is hard for the team to get together and train for the league, because nine of our players are currently representing the country at the Borneo Games (held from Dec 4-11 in Samarinda, Kalimantan). These players will also represent Brunei at the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in March. So it is quite difficult for us to train at the moment," said Rosdin.

Among their players in the national team are Mohd Nurikwan Hj Othman, Mohd Fakruk Hamzi Yusof, Mohd Al Wardi Abd Hamid and Ak Omar Nur Aqammadin Pg Hj Salehuddin.

He added:"Three of our players have also been called up to play for DPMM FC Sairol Hj Sahari, Mohd Azwan Salleh and Mohd Helmi Zambin."

"This is a different team ... most of the players are very young. Perhaps only one or two are above 30," said the Indera manager.

Newly elected Wijaya FC coach Hussin Hj Mokhtal, meanwhile, is confident his team can finish in the Top 3 to qualify for the exclusive DST National Super League.

But, he admitted that they would have a tough job considering this year's League Cup winners, Majra FC, are also in Group D.

Hussin said Wijaya will utilise their young players in the new league.

"Two of our players are in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy squad (Under-21 team) while eight are from the Under-16 national team."

Hussin is familiar with Brunei football, having played for Brunei and Wijaya.

"I was the coach of Indera SC last season. Wijaya didn't do very well last season ... they were seventh out of the nine teams in the league. Now I am back with the team and hope we will do better," added Hussin.

Thirty-two teams divided into four groups will be competing in today's long-awaited DST-National Football League.

Organised by the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), a new format of play is being introduced whereby the winners and runners up of each group will gain automatic qualification to compete in the elite DST-National Super League, with the two best third-placed teams also gaining entry into the exclusive competition.

Each team will play each other once.

The league kicks off today at the Berakas Sports Complex at 8pm, but the opener remains a mystery as NFABD will only conduct the draw after the opening ceremony which the association expects all 32 teams to attend.The Brunei Times

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