29 September 2012

FOOTBALL Painful lesson for Brunei

Thursday, September 27, 2012
THE NATIONAL football team know they have a lot of work to do after being handed a 5-0 loss by Indonesia in a friendly last night.

Preparing for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Myanmar, the team has only been together for three months and it showed as they were picked apart by a slick and smooth Indonesian side.

All memories of the national Under-21 team's 2-0 win over Indonesia to lift the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in March were firmly cast aside after the visitors commanding display, Irfan Bachdim impressing the most for the 2010 Suzuki Cup runners-up with a hat-trick at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

The host's most glaring failure was their inability to spark on the attack, and losing possession far too easily and unable to sustain any pressure going forward, the team's inexperience was laid bare for the Indonesian-dominated crowd to see.

Playing with purpose and precision, Indonesia were easily able to create space and switch play with their sturdy central defensive pairing of Wahyu Wijiastanto and Handi Ramadhan ensuring goalkeeper Samsidar hardly broke a sweat.

Brunei were not at full-strength though, and perhaps the inclusion of nine DPMM FC players in last night's squad would have made a world of difference.

Indonesia also have more gears in them, as they came without strikers Bambang Pamungkas and Christian Gonzales and key players such as AFF 2010 Suzuki Cup MVP Firman Utina, Patrich Wanggai, Oktovianus Maniani, Titus Bonai, Ponaryo Astaman, Muhamad Ridwan, Ahmad Bustomi all of whom play for clubs in the breakaway Indonesian Super League (ISL).

"We always knew it was going to be hard going up against one of the region's top teams. Indonesia are at a different level in terms of ability and experience," admitted national coach Kwon Oh-son.

"We've only been training for a few months and we're improving everyday," added the South Korean before praising his players' spirit.

Kwon's counterpart's also paid tribute to his players' spirit, saying that their determination and desire were the main reasons they won last night.

"I expected them to work hard, and they did," said Nil Maizar when asked whether he was expecting such a lop-sided scoreline.

"The most important thing was that they played with their hearts and enjoyed the game. You can't play football if you are forced," he pointed out.

The only forcing the Indonesians did was onto their opponent's goal, with captain Elie Aboy sending in several dangerous crosses in the opening few minutes to set the tempo for the tie.

Unable to stretch play, Brunei were left pinging long-balls forward, none of which troubled the Indonesians' back line.

Irfan put Indonesia in front after sending goalkeeper Mohd Fakhrul Zulhazmi Yussof the wrong way in a 23rd minute penalty he converted after being brought down in the box and they headed into the break 2-0 up after Vendry Ronaldo Mofu unleashed a 30-yard cannonball which bounced into goal after hitting the crossbar easily the best goal of the night.

Brunei's defence was caught napping five minutes after the break when Irfan latched onto a Hendra Adi Bayauw pass and cooly slotted home after streaming past the Brunei defense and Hendra Adi woud make it 4-0 in the 63rd minute after tapping home a square pass from Muhamad Nur Iskandar.

Though it was shambolic defending, more shameful was the fact that that scores of Brunei fans took that as their cue to start streaming out of the stadium.

Irfan bagged his hat-trick in the 72nd minute after rounding Mohd Fakhrul Zulhazmi to cap off a string of passes which started with Muhamad Nur Iskandar and worked its way to Rahmat Syamsuddin Leo before finding the goalscorer.

Md Suhandi Hj Awang Mahali came in for Mohd Fakhrul Zulhazmi in the 76th minute, but judging from last night's performance, it will take more changes for Brunei to make any impact in Myanmar.The Brunei Times 

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