04 January 2012

Kwon eyes semis berth for HBT

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
KWON Oh-son is confident that Brunei can reach the semi-finals of next month's Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT).

The national coach is undaunted by the fact that the Sultanate has never made it past the group stage of the competition for Under-21 teams in the Asean region despite hosting it for three times.

He also insisted his team will be able to give as good as they get during the Feb 25 - March 3 tournament.

"We will be targeting a semi-final berth," said Kwon recently.

"The boys are not intimidated playing against teams like Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

"We will continue to train harder and improve, and it is not impossible that we will manage to give a fight to the other international teams," he added.

Having won the silver medal in the recent Borneo Games, the team is in high spirits.

Though he feels the team has made rapid progress in their football development, Kwon, who has been in charge for seven years, believes his players need to gain more experience by competing in international friendlies and tournaments.

The Sultanate's Under-21 team haven't had many friendlies and got their only "international" matches earlier this month.

They used the 4th Borneo Games at Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, as a warm-up and returned home from the Dec 4-11 biennial event with a silver medal.

They started the Games with a 2-0 win over Sarawak, but lost to eventual champions East Kalimantan 2-1 before bouncing back for a 2-1 victory over South Kalimantan to finish in second place.

"Most of the squad played during the Borneo Games success, but we need to remain focused, and train harder," said the coach.

"They are tired from all the intensive training, but mentally and psychologically, they will benefit and will see improvements in their performances.

"In terms of mentality, psychology and team play, I am delighted with their progress. The team are united, and we work as one," he added.

"These boys love football. They have massive potential and they have surprised me by making rapid progress since we started training in September.

"I would want to continue training these players harder in the coming years, and be on par with the standards of the regional national teams."

Asked if Bruneians can reach the standard and talent that South Korea has, the coach replied in a diplomatic manner.

"There are a lot of professional clubs and corporate investments in South Korea Brunei only has one professional club (DPMM FC)," he pointed out.

But the opportunities for Brunei to progress is highly possible."

A biennial tournament, the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy 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.

Thailand are the tournament's defending champions after squeezing past Myanmar 5-4 on penalties the last time the event was contested in 2007.

Thailand also beat Myanmar to lift the 2005 edition of the trophy while Indonesia won the inaugural competition in 2002.The Brunei Times

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