10 April 2012

M-League is good for Brunei: HRH

Jason Thomas

Saturday, April 7, 2012

HIS Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah yesterday outlined the importance of keeping the national Under-21 team together, stressing that the side can only grow from the experience.

The Honorary President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), the Prince told The Brunei Times that the association is eyeing a slot in the Malaysia League with the view of strengthening the squad and maintaining the momentum that came from their Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) win last month.

And with talk rife as to whether Brunei will send a team to participate in one of the two Malaysia League (M-League) divisions the top-tier Malaysian Super League (MSL) or Malaysian Premier League even before the 2-0 win over Indonesia in the March 9 final, the Honorary President agreed that playing in the M-League had its benefits.

"If we want to improve ... We have to. The more they play overseas the better they will be," HRH said when asked if there was any possibility of the team playing in the M-League.

"NFABD is looking into it ... We are still in the planning stages," added the Honorary President, who also heads the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council.

It should be no surprise if the move works out.

After all, Brunei's only professional football club DPMM FC, who are currently leading the Singapore League (S-League), were in the MSL until 2008.

Brunei has a rich tradition of participating in Malaysian football, an involvement which reached its climax in 1999 when the national team edged Sarawak 2-1 for the Malaysia Cup.

Brunei saw action in the M-League (then known as the Semi-Pro League) from 1989 to 1993 and will be keen to further its involvement in regional football considering that cross-straits football between Malaysia and Singapore is at an all-time high Harimau Muda (Malaysian Under-23 team) are currently third in the S-League while Singapore Lions XII (Under-28) top the 14-team MSL.

Malaysia has also mooted the idea of Brunei competing in the M-League, with its Minister of Youth and Sports, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, telling Malaysian news agency Bernama in January that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and the NFABD could create a mechanism towards Brunei's participation.

Though an NFABD official later said that the FAM had yet to approach the association, he added that "anything is possible".

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam bestowed Decoration Orders on the victorious HBT squad in a ceremony at the Istana Nurul Iman on Thursday, and in his titah, expressed the desire to see the players form the nucleus of the national football team under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

"For me, personally, it's a good move," agreed the Prince.

"The NFABD will support it and work together with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to further develop football in the future," he added during the interview.The Brunei Times

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