22 July 2011

Brunei eye M-League

Chua Guan Cheong and Yee Chun Leong

Friday, July 22, 2011

BRUNEI might be making a return to the Malaysia League (M-League) soon if all things pan out well.

This good news was revealed by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah during his trip to Tutong together with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for his meet and greet session in the district.

HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, also the Honorary President of National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), was responding to a question by The Brunei Times on whether a Brunei football team will be re-entered into the Malaysia League.

"I don't know, maybe," said the HRH, before adding: "We're trying."

Brunei have a long history in the Malaysia League culminating in their Malaysia Cup victory for the first and only time in 1999, which until today remains the Sultanate's greatest football achievement.

Brunei beat Borneo neighbours Sarawak 2-1 to lift the Cup.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) dropped Brunei's premier club DPMM FC from the 2009 season of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) after Bafa (Football Association of Brunei Darussalam) was deregistered from the Registrar of Societies (RoS) on Nov 15, 2008.

Fifa's (International Federation of Association Football) rules forbid any football organisation from including an un-registered or deregistered team in any competition.

The deregistration also meant that other local clubs in the country could not compete in any Fifa-sanctioned competitions.

Some 2,500 footballers playing with Brunei's 22 registered clubs were affected.

DPMM FC's season was saved when they were allowed to play in the Singapore League (S-League), but they did not manage to see the end of the competition after they were again disallowed to continue in the league, this time with just five matches left.

In their debut S-League season, DPMM FC managed to become the first foreign side to win the Singapore League Cup emerging victorious after a gritty 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Singapore Armed Forces FC.

It was only after a gruelling 20 months that the ban on the Sultanate was finally lifted by Fifa the good news received on May 30.

HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, got things back on track for football in the Sultanate in early April after a meeting with Fifa Emergency Committee.

They also decided to rename the association from the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (Bafa) to the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD).

Fifa too decided to restore Brunei's full member privileges allowing the Sultanate to play at the international stage while being eligible once again for Fifa's Financial Assistance Programme and Goal Project.

Fifa members receive an annual FAP boon of US$250,000 plus bonuses. The Goal Project, meanwhile, is a tailor-made development and assistance programme for member countries.The Brunei Times

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