16 June 2016

Faiq eyes first int’l cap

Thursday, June 16, 2016

FAIQ Jefri Bolkiah is targeting his first international cap when the Wasps compete at the AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Cambodia later this year.
The national football team will be pitted against hosts Cambodia, Timor Leste and Laos in the four-team round-robin event to be contested from Oct 13-22.
Only the winner will advance to the tournament proper co-hosted by Myanmar and the Philippines from Nov 19–Dec 17.
The 18-year-old Faiq, who signed for English Premier League champions Leicester City last month, has already represented the sultanate at both the Under-19 and Under-23 levels and is now looking to make the step up to the national team.
“It’s always a privilege and a pleasure to be called up for any tournaments for my country,” said Faiq in an interview with The Brunei Times.
“I have had talks lately about the Suzuki Cup and will do my best to try and compete in it for Brunei.
“Getting a call up for the national senior A team would be a first for me and would make me very proud.
“Every time I put on a Brunei shirt, it is a proud moment for me.
“I am very lucky to be playing for a club like LCFC who really push their youth to play for their international teams as they know how good the experience would be for the player,” he added.
“I had the privilege of playing in the SEA Games in Singapore last year, and not only was it a challenge physically because of all the matches in a short space of time, but it was also really tough mentally.
“I am very open to any international tournaments and games in the upcoming years.
“The SEA Games in Malaysia next year, which is always very exciting, will be a very hard tournament to compete in but I am very excited for the challenge,” continued Faiq.
NFABD (National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam) technical director Mike Wong Mun Heng said that preparations are already under way for Brunei’s AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying campaign.
“We have started training last October and have identified 40 over players, including professionals and amateurs,” said Wong recently.
“It is a process. Everybody wants to win and we have to take things in the right perspective on where we stand and what we can do.
“The president (NFABD president HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah) has been supportive of this. He knows our limitations and knows where we can move forward.
“We are not worried about tomorrow’s games. We are worried about the next 10 years and whether we can compete with the rest of Southeast Asia.
“We want to compete well in the next six to eight years because development is a long term process.
“There will be no short cut for us but we are looking to make the learning curve shorter. Plus, there will be no compromise on the quality of training,” continued the Singaporean.
When asked if there are any matches in store for the Wasps ahead of the qualifiers, Wong replied: “We are looking at organising friendly games but we must make sure countries are able to play.
“We will identify opponents that will help us in the qualifiers,” he concluded.
The country’s sole appearance at the main event came in 1996 when they competed in the inaugural edition.
Brunei, led by DPMM FC coach Steve Kean, ended the last qualifiers in 2014 without a single point to their name in Vientiane, Laos.
The Wasps started out with a 4-2 to loss at the hands of Timor Leste before falling to Laos by the same scoreline in the second match.
They dropped 3-1 to Myanmar before they ended their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Cambodia.

The Brunei Times

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