Brunei face uphill battle in AFC under-16 qualifiers
by James Kon
Brunei Darussalam under-16 football squad face an uphill battle as they have been drawn into Group G along with hosts Indonesia, People’s Republic of China, the Philippines and Northern Mariana Island for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Qualifiers in Jakarta, Indonesia held from tomorrow until September 23.
Despite the tough outings ahead, the team is vying to perform well and win as many matches as possible.
“I hope that the team can perform well and collect some points in the group,” head coach Mohd Ikhmarol Izzat bin Haji Omar said.
The national squad comprising 25 players and staff is led by Team Manager Ah Chua bin Bangau.
Asked on their preparations, the head coach said, “We did a good centralised training session at the National Service Programme (PKBN) Training Camp in Temburong recently. From the centralised training, the team has built their chemistry further and we are ready for the AFC qualifiers.
“The team has been together for two years and some of the players are from clubs in the youth league. There are some new faces in the squad and majority of the players are from Tabuan Muda and DPMM FC,” he added.
Their participation in the qualifiers will serve as a development plan for the youth squad.
“The players need to be nurtured further into better players by competing in more international games. This age group has competed two times in international competition. Previously, they went to the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-15 Youth Championship at the Chonburi Campus Stadium in Chonburi, Thailand and also joined the training camp in Jakarta in March,” he said.
“In the AFF Under-15 Youth Championship, we got one point out of five games. We managed to draw against Cambodia. I saw some improvements in the team as we progressed forward in the (previous) under-15 youth championship, so I also hope that there will be more improvement this time.”
Mohd Ikhmarol Izzat also shared that the most important thing is for the players to be brave when facing opponents on the field and to be themselves.
Present to send off the team yesterday was the Acting Deputy President of National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Haji Abdul Razak bin Haji Ibrahim, Executive Committee members of NFABD Bujang and Matusin bin Sumpong, as well as other officials.
NFABD President reminded the players on the importance of playing as a team and interaction with one another on the pitch.
The under-16 squad will play their first match against People’s Republic of China tomorrow at the Madya Stadium.