Minister urges national team to make impact at AFF Suzuki Cup qualifier
By James Kon
NATIONAL football players must stay focussed in a display of team dynamics when they take on Timor Leste in the two-leg qualification match for the AFF Suzuki Cup on September 1.
This was said by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin in a motivational speech to the national football team at the Brunei International Airport yesterday.
“This advice has been reiterated by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, on many occasions.
“We believe that the national team have trained hard and shown high commitment. During the game, be confident that as a team, we can defeat Timor Leste. It is not impossible to beat Timor Leste, as our national squad did in 2012, when we managed to lift the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) in the same year.”
The minister also welcomed the inclusion of players from DPMM FC, while thanking His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office who is also the Chairman of DPMM FC, for allowing these players to join the national team.
“We wish the squad all the best in Malaysia, in the hope that they will do us proud,” the minister said.
Led by coach Kwon Oh Son and manager Kamarul Arifin bin Mohammad Harif, the national squad headed for the AFF Suzuki Cup qualification match comprise players selected from the DST league: Mohammad Tarmizi bin Haji Mat Johan, Muhammad Arif bin Ali Rahman, Muhammad Ali bin Aminuddin, Hazwan bin Hamzah, Mohammad Khairil Shahme bin Suhaimi, Mohd Aminuddin Zakwan bin Mohd Tahir, Muhammad Razimie bin Ramli, Mohammed Zulkhairy Hady bin Razali and Hamizan Aziz bin Sulaiman.
The DPMM FC players absorbed in the national team are: Md Wardun Yussof, Haimie anak Nyaring, Mohammad Helmi bin Haji Zambin, Reduan bin Haji Petra, Abdul Mu’iz Sisa, Mohammad Najib bin Haji Tarif, Awangku Mohd Fakharrazi bin Pengiran Haji Hassan, Mohammad Shafir bin Haji Mohd Efenddy, Awangku Yura Indera Putera bin Pengiran Yunos, Mohammad Nurikhwan bin Othman, Muhammad Azwan bin Ali Rahman, Mohammad Shahrazen bin Said and Adi bin Said.
Faiq Jefri Bolkiah, who led the national youth team in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy this year, will not be joining the national squad in Malaysia, but is expected to play in the second leg on September 8 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.
In an interview, coach Kwon said, “Group training for the local players started in early June, and on July 24, the team underwent centralised training. Thirteen DPMM FC players joined the team in the last phase, which is all right, because as professional players, they easily adapted to the team.
“There was no problem in the team preparation; the players got along well together. They are mentally strong and ready to win against Timor Leste.”
The first leg of the match will take place at the Cheras Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, after the original venue in Dili, Timor Leste, was plagued with concerns over floodlighting, despite being close to match readiness.
Changing the venue, said Kwon, “is a huge advantage for us, because flying to Dili is a really long journey, with a transit through Bali or Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is close and is looked upon as our second home, so I hope that the players can adapt well to the venue.”
On the Timor Leste team, he said, “They have players with good attacking skills, but if we can dominate in the midfield, we can build up our attacking chances. Our players are hungry for success. They want to show the best of Brunei football to local fans, by winning both legs of the qualification matches and proceeding to the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup. We will take every game as the finals.”
Kwon also conveyed his gratitude to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince for allowing DPMM FC players to join the national squad and to His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah for supporting the team.