Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
LET the countdown begin!
The Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) is just around the corner and it will be the biggest ever.
The organisers are busy preparing for the Under-21 tournament and last night saw a rehearsal for the opening ceremony to be held on Saturday. But, it was put to an abrupt stop with the downpour at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
The final preparations are to ensure that everything will go well for the big day which will be graced by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Organisers are spending nearly $1.7 million for the tournament which will see 10 teams compete for top honours.
The biennial competition for Under-21 national football teams in the region will see nine ASEAN members (excluding Thailand who last week pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances) plus guests Timor Leste take to the pitch for the Feb 25-March 9 event.
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 in Berakas, the Berakas Sports Complex and Balapan Track & Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas will be used for the matches.
The HBT is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who desired that a football tournament be organised with the aim of increasing friendship and understanding among Southeast Asian youth through sports.
Brunei are placed in Group B with Timor Leste, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
On the other hand, Group A are made up of Singapore, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia and Laos.
The top-two countries from each group advance to the semi-finals, a feat which Brunei have yet to achieve despite hosting the tournament in 2002, 2005 and 2007.
This year's edition of the tournament will allow each team to include five overage players though only three can be fielded in each match.
National striker Adi Said, midfielders Mohd Hendra Azam Mohd Idris and Mohd Najib as well as defenders Md Azri Zahari and Reduan Hj Petara have been chosen as the five players.
Entrance is free but fans have to obtain tickets at the venue at least one hour before a match kicks off.
More information can also be obtained by logging on to www.hassanalbolkiahtrophy.com.bn. The Brunei Times