04 February 2015

Brunei to compete in World Cup qualifiers

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

BRUNEI are on the road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

FIFA recently confirmed that for the first time in the history of the World Cup, all 209 member associations have registered for its preliminary competition – which in Asia, also serves as the qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup.

National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) general secretary Hj Muhd Zamri Dato Paduka Hj Hamdani yesterday told The Brunei Times that the national football team will be competing in the first round of the Preliminary Joint Qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Preliminary Competition and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers next month.

Stand-in national coach Mike Wong Mun Heng, who is also NFABD’s Technical Director, knows that time is limited - but he is hoping to get the best from his players.

“We only started training just over a week ago without the professional players (DPMM FC players),” said Wong (pic) in an interview with The Brunei Times last night.

“We are looking at the best players, not only in terms of skill but attitude and commitment as well.

“The main thing we need to work on is the fitness so that they can stay sharp as most players were on a break during the offseason,” he concluded.

The first round will consist of 12 teams (ranked 35-46 as per latest FIFA ranking on January 8, 2015) and Brunei are currently ranked 45th – second lowest – in the AFC.

They are placed in Pot 2 together with Nepal, Macau, Pakistan, Mongolia and Bhutan.

The draw will be conducted in Kuala Lumpur next Tuesday, and they will face a team from Pot 1 - India, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei or Timor Leste.

Brunei will play the away fixture on March 12 and the home match will be contested five days later.

The winners of the six pairings will advance to the second round to join the 34 highest ranked teams.

The teams will then be drawn into eight groups of five. The group winner and four runner-up teams – 12 teams in total – will advance to the Asian Cup 2019 Finals and World Cup Qualifiers Final Round.

The remaining 24 teams will continue with qualification into Asian Cup 2019 Finals.

There are currently over 30 players shortlisted for the national squad, with 13 of them plying their trade with DPMM FC.

A total of 20 players – selected from their performance in the DST Super League – were spotted at training last night at the Balapan Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.

Wong will select 23 players for the squad.
Brunei’s last attempt to qualify for the World Cup was for the 2002 edition in South Korea and Japan, where they lost all six of their games against Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and India in 2001.
Brunei went down 5-0 and 1-0 to Yemen, 12-0 and 4-0 to the United Arab Emirates and 1-0 and 5-0 to India in the two-legged home and away qualifiers.

The Brunei Times

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