YEE CHUN LEONG
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
HIS Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, president of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), urged the national football team to fight till the end when they take on Laos in their final game of the AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Cambodia tomorrow.
The Wasps opened their campaign with a 2-1 win over Timor Leste on Saturday before slipping 3-0 to the hosts in their second game on Tuesday night at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia are now favourites to go through with a maximum of six points but it is still mathematically possible for Brunei to pip them for the only spot on offer to the tournament proper to join Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar in Group B. However, it will be no easy task as the Wasps must win their game and hope that Cambodia slip up against Timor Leste by a favourable scoreline.
“Let’s hope we play well on Friday,” said HRH in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
“I know it is very hard to qualify but nobody knows. The ball is round,” HRH added.
HRH was delighted with the Wasps for picking up the opening win, which is their first in the qualifiers in almost exactly four years, but felt that stamina is lacking.
HRH hopes that they will be able to keep their concentration for the full 90 minutes.
“In the first game, they were really good and played well. I’m very happy with the result,” said HRH.
“But last night (Tuesday night), Cambodia are a very good team as they got the skills and speed. They also got the stamina.
“Our team, not only in the Suzuki Cup but also in the SEA Games in Singapore last year, are gone either in the first 10 minutes or the last 20 minutes,” HRH added.
“It was also seen in the friendly matches against Malaysia’s Under-22 football team.
“The players may be nervous in the first 10 minutes but later on we lack the stamina and that’s when we lose our concentration. But regardless it is getting better and we have improved from before,” continued the NFABD president.
The Wasps will want to finish the qualifiers on a high considering that the inaugural AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Solidarity Cup 2016 will start early next month in Malaysia.
HRH hopes that the team will continue to stick together to tackle the Nov 2-15 competition to be held in Kuching.
“We want to keep the same team together for the Solidarity Cup. We should have the same officials and coaches,” said HRH.
“Changing those would mean different tactics and ideas. We will have them together at least till the competition is over,” concluded HRH. A total of seven countries will vie for top honours in the tournament after the withdrawal of Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The Wasps are placed in Group A together with Nepal and Timor Leste while Sri Lanka, Macau, Mongolia and Laos make up Group B.
The tournament will be held at two venues — Sarawak Stadium and Negeri Stadium — in Kuching and the sultanate will kick things off against Timor Leste in the opener on Nov 2.
The Brunei Times