29 January 2012

HBT squad to be finalised on Wednesday

Jason Thomas

Sunday, January 29, 2012

THE country's 18-man squad for the Feb 25-March 9 Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) will be made public in a matter of days.

A total of 25 players have been training for the competition since August, and with a record 11 teams involved, organisers are spending nearly $1.7 million to make sure the tournament runs smoothly.

Gearing up to be the biggest football event the country has organised in years, the Sultanate's team list for the biennial competition for Under-21 teams in the region has been a closely guarded secret.

Not for long though.

"The 18-player list will be out by Feb 1 (Wednesday)," said the team's manager Hj Feisal Hj Eusoff yesterday.

"We are hoping for full support from the media, public and all concerned parties to make the HBT a success," added Hj Feisal during an informal meeting with the Press.

Also present at the meeting at the Conference Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas were head coach Kwon Oh-son and his assistant Hj Mohd Rosanan Abdullah Samak.

Hosted biennially by Brunei, the competition for ASEAN countries which all member nations plus Timor Leste have confirmed their participation allows each team to bring five overage players, though only three can be fielded in each match.

It is understood Kwon has already picked four such players striker Adi Said, defender Reduan Hj Petara as well as midfielders Mohd Hendra Azam Mohd Idris and Mohd Najib Hj Tarif all of whom saw action for the Sultanate at last November's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Jakarta.

This year is the first time the tournament includes overage players, with the previous three meets in 2002, 2005 and 2007 strictly limited to Under-21 players.

The aim of yesterday's meeting was to find ways to promote the HBT which is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who desired that an Under-21 football tournament be organised with the aim of increasing friendship and understanding between Southeast Asian youth through sports.

His Majesty is expected to grace the opening ceremony while His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, is slated to officiate at the closing ceremony.

Though all 11 countries have confirmed their entries, as of Tuesday the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) were still waiting for Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia to finalise their 18-player list.

Three of the country's biggest stadiums, all in Berakas, will play host to the two-week football extravaganza. Apart from the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, the Berakas Sports Complex and Balapan Track & Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex will also be used.

Though the tournament has been hosted in Brunei three times, the Sultanate has yet to reach the semi-finals.

Two-time champions Thailand return to Brunei as the HBT's reigning champions.

They won the tournament by edging Myanmar 5-4 on penalties the last time the event was contested in 2007 and also beat Myanmar to lift the 2005 edition of the trophy.

Indonesia won the inaugural competition in 2002.The Brunei Times

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