26 October 2012

Bringing football fever back

Friday, October 26, 2012
IT WAS as if football had never left Brunei.

Despite Brunei serving a two year ban by FIFA from international football, the Sultanate's only professional club DPMM FC find themselves neck to neck with Tampines Rovers FC in the race for the Singapore League (S-League) title.

The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (BAFA) was deregistered from the Registrar of Societies in November 2008 for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested.

It was then suspended by FIFA for government interference during its executive committee meeting in September 2009.

The ban was lifted on May 30, 2011 thanks to the normalisation committee, which was chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, who is now the Honorary President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), during FIFA's annual congress.

Defending champions Tampines currently lead the Bruneian side by one point with both teams having a final game to play.

Both teams will take to the field next Friday with DPMM FC taking on Balestier Khalsa FC while the Stags play Harimau Muda (Malaysian national Under-23 team).

A win alone will not be enough for DPMM FC to hoist the trophy, they will also be praying for a Tampines slip up.

A Tampines win will mean DPMM FC end the season at second, an impressive feat for a squad that have been missing from competitive football in two years.

But DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic has set his eyes on victory in their final match of the season at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

"In the last 23 games, we were never relaxed. We played 200 per cent in every game," said Simunic.

He attributed Wednesday's 3-1 win against Hougang United FC as one of the most crucial.

"The win makes us concentrate more and we must not lose that confidence," said the head coach.

"Hougang is a wonderful team... we were under a lot of pressure in that game but we showed why we are one of the best teams in the region," he said.

But the coach knows that the fate of his team lies in the hands of a under-powered Harimau Muda, currently missing a number of players called up for national duty.

"Tampines have really good players and if Harimau Muda does not play their full team... the match between these two clubs will be a 50-50 (toss up)," said Simunic.

The Croatian added that even if they were to finish the season as runner-ups, it would be a fantastic result for the team whose initial target was to secure a top-five finish in the league.

Simunic also used the opportunity to call out all Brunei fans to provide their full support for the club come Friday.

"For this last game, I expect at least 30,000 or more people to come and support the team," he said.

The Brunei Times

21 October 2012

Controversy at the AFF Suzuki Cup

Sunday, October 21, 2012
THE ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2012 Qualifiers maybe over but there is still plenty of buzz surrounding the Oct 5-13 event with allegations surfacing on the net of match fixing for the last day of matches.

Myanmar and Laos played out to a 0-0 draw last Saturday. The result left Brunei with no chance of qualifying for the tournament proper to be held from Nov 24 - Dec 22. It also meant that Timor Leste needed at least a draw to qualify.

Brunei, however, defied the odds to put up a remarkable performance to stun the latter 2-1 to put both Myanmar and Laos through.

Two documents can be found on the net and it has gathered large interest but there is no authenticity to the rumours.

The first was a letter surfacing on Thursday claiming to be from a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent stating that the Laos Football Federation and Myanmar Football Federation had bribed the respective referees for the matches.

Yesterday saw another fax emerge claiming to be from FIFA in regards to the corresponding letter.

The letter states that " ... both teams, Laos and Myanmar, are disqualified from the tournament and will be banned from taking the next qualification round of ASEAN Football Championship. Brunei and Timor Leste are promoted to the proper group stage of the tournament ... the six referees will terminate refereeing from FIFA and a fine imposed on them ... "

One key note about the letter and fax is that both were written poorly.

The National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) declined to comment but told The Brunei Times that they are currently looking into the matter.

Myanmar ended the qualifiers at the top of the five-team table and will be in Group A with Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Laos, the runners-up, and will be in Group B with Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

The Brunei Times

Keep focus, DPMM FC team told

Sunday, October 21, 2012
DPMM FC's head coach Vjeran Simunic urges his players to stay focussed when they face Woodlands Wellington FC tonight at 7.45 pm at the Woodlands Stadium in Singapore.

"We are now only concentrating on the game against Woodlands, I have a respect for Woodlands even though they are now in a bad position in the league, DPMM FC still cannot take them lightly. As we all know there were many surprise results in the past and we cannot judge the team by their position in the league. So I need them to be fully focused tomorrow," said Simunic in an interview with The Brunei Times on Friday.

The Croatian also demands his players to take each game individually as they enter the final three games of the Singapore League (S-League) this season. DPMM FC will face Hougang United FC on Wednesday and Balestier Khalsa FC on November 2.

"We targeted to finish at top 5 in the S-League this year and I am already happy that we managed to do that.

"If we are to finish second this year it is still an achievement for us after three years of no professional football and moreover we have won one title this year, the Singapore League Cup. However, Harimau Muda is not an easy opponent for the Tampines, if we manage to win and Tampines drop points we still can win the league," Simunic added.

Mathematically it is still possible for the DPMM FC to steal the S-League title away from titleholders Tampines Rover FC, but they have to win all their three matches and hope that Harimau Muda will be able to at least hold Tampines Rover FC to a draw.

Tampines Rover FC defeated SAF FC 3-2 on Friday at the Jalan Besar Stadium to cement their place at the top of the league.

The last time both teams met in the league saw DPMM FC defeated Woodlands Wellington FC 3-0 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas on April 27.

DPMM FC will be without their key central defender Tales Ricarte dos Santos for the rest of their S-League campaign after suffering a knee injury.

"That is one problem for me, he is our key defender and he will be out for the rest of the season. He needs an operation for his right knee.

"After the game against Home United, he totally cannot play anymore," Simunic continued.

"But luckily, we had a long break, it was a nice break and we recovered Pg Salehuddin Pg Damit from injury. He is ready now and will replace Santos in defence for the rest of the season," added Simunic.

The Brazilian centre-back will be flying back home to Brazil to get a treatment.

"I got this injury after the Harimau Muda game. When we played against Home United FC, I was not 100 per cent (fit). Then I went to check for MRI and they said I got problem with my right knee," Santos said.

"I will go back to Brazil, hopefully next week, to get treatment there. I will only be back in February next year so I will miss the remaining matches in S-League." he added. The Brunei Times

14 October 2012

Wasps sting Timor Leste

Sunday, October 14, 2012
BRUNEI ended their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers on a high note after sending Timor Leste packing with a 2-1 victory at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon last night.

The Wasps only had bragging rights to play for as they were already out of the running after the earlier match between Myanmar and Laos, both who qualified, ended in a 0-0 draw.

Timor Leste needed at least a draw to make it into the tournament proper scheduled from Nov 24 Dec 22, but goals by Adi Said and Muhd Azwan Ali Rahman in each half handed Brunei the victory.

The result means Brunei have won all of their three encounters against Timor Leste, defeating them 3-2 during the 2006 edition of the qualifiers in Cambodia and 4-1 during the 2008 edition in Cambodia.

Brunei end this year's campaign fourth in the five-team table with six points, with Timor Leste ahead on goal difference. Myanmar go through with 10 while Laos finish with seven.

Brunei made six changes from the starting lineup that featured in the 3-1 loss to Laos on Thursday, the most notable being the DPMM FC duo of striker Shahrazen Said and left-back Sairol Hj Sahari who were out due to food poisoning and a knee injury respectively.

Timor Leste, on the other hand, were without striker Murilo Almeida who was serving a one game suspension for picking up two yellow cards.

The tournament's top scorers with nine goals heading into last night's tie, Timor Leste also had the height and size advantage though Brunei seemed unfazed.

Timor Leste almost broke the deadlock in the opening minute but saw the ball cleared off the line, and Diogo Santos Rangel had a chance to put Timor Leste ahead in the 15th but saw his effort deflected just wide for a corner.

Brunei goalkeeper Wardun Yussof easily handled the ensuing corner-kick and launched a quick goal-kick which led to Adi scoring on the other end.

The ball took a hard bounce in midfield and Timor Leste defender Anggisu Barbosa slipped and allowed Adi through on goal the foward confidently slotting the ball past Timor Leste shotstopper Emerson Cesario to give the Sultanate the lead.

Cesario was called into action again in the 24th minute as he had to keep out a long range effort by Mohd Haizul Rani Metusin.

The Sultanate's backline was keeping the Timor Leste attack at bay, denying them any clear-cut chances.

Timor Leste were delivering the ball into the box but never seriously threatened Wardun, thought they had another good chance to equalise just before the break with an attempt by Emilio Da Silva rolling across the face of the Brunei goal.

Brunei almost doubled their lead in the 65th minute with Ak Muhd Fakharazzi Pg Hj Hassan and Muhd Helmi Zambin playing a quick one-two on the right before the latter sent in a cross, which Md Najib Hj Tarif couldnt control for a better shot.

Wardun made sure that Brunei stayed ahead in the 70th minute after diving to the right to save an Alan Pinheiro shot, and three minutes later, Muhd Azwan Ali Rahman had a good chance to make it 2-0 but fired hopelessly wide despite only having the goalkeeper to beat. He would made amends for his mistake soon after though.

He was the fastest to the rebound after captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis had unleashed a shot from outside the box and Cesario fumbled it, slotting home past the goalkeeper's right and going on to celebrate with the rest of the team.

Timor Leste weren't done yet though, and pulled one back in the 79th minute after Jesse Pinto headed home.

They were firing on all cylinders in search of the equaliser which would see them qualify and came close when Pinheiro saw his free-kick bounce off the right post in injury time.

However, it all went wrong when Adi sent in a cross which was met by Wellinto Rocha dos Santos and Cesario picked up the ball with the referee calling a foul on a backpass.

It ignited protests by the Timor Leste players but it spelt the end of their campaign.

National football head coach Kwon Oh-son was all smiles after the win.

"It was a good game. We came prepared and I'm satisfied with the performance of my players," Kwon told The Brunei Times.

"We knew we couldn't qualify anymore but I told the players to never give up and they responded well," added the South Korean.

Timor Leste's head coach Emerson Alcantara also praised his players for their efforts.

"That is why I love football, it is always full of surprises," said the Brazilian.

"We played together as a family and I think we have earned the respect of the other countries in the region."

The Brunei Times

13 October 2012

Brunei's mission impossible

Saturday, October 13, 2012
IT IS "mission impossible" for Brunei in their last match against Timor Leste in the AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Suzuki Cup 2012 Qualifiers.

The Wasps were handed a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Laos on Thursday, giving them an uphill task in their last match.

The national football team must not only win by at least a four-goal margin to give them a chance to make it into the tournament proper from Nov 24 - Dec 22, but Myanmar must also defeat Laos in their match today.

Brunei's biggest victory in the competition came in 2008 in Cambodia when they strolled to a 4-1 victory over Timor Leste.

The latter, however, have come of age and are a force to be reckoned with. They are the best offensive team thus far with nine goals and they have let in only four.

National football coach Kwon Oh-son knows the task at hand and can only hope for the best from his players.

"I just hope that the players will do their best on the field. Timor Leste are a tough and good team with many naturalised players featuring in different leagues in the region," Kwon said.

"Our players are tired but they will still give it their all. We will go out prepared and try to get that good result," he added.

"Timor Leste will be well rested for the game while we are still recovering. We just have to maintain our mental attitude and play as one mind for a chance," continued the South Korean.

The head coach highlighted the fact that Timor Leste are a well-balanced team with players comfortable in most positions, who have plenty of experience playing in leagues around the world such as in Portugal and Korea.

However, they will be missing midfielder Lamberto Gama, who is out after picking up two yellow cards in the competition.

Team manager Hj Feisal Hj Eusoff is still upset about the refereeing in the last game, especially with the four crucial calls that were made against the team, and hopes that the officiating will improve.

"There was a foul for our opponents' first goal as defender Helmi (Zambin) was clipped by the Laos striker (Kovanh Namthavixay) and fell. It left him open to score," Hj Feisal said.

"Even the first penalty shouldn't have been given because Azwan (Ali Rahman) had got the ball first on the tackle before the opponent fell. There was no contact at all with the challenge from Afi (Aminuddin) resulting in the second penalty given," he added.

"Even the last call in injury time was bogus as the referee only changed his mind on giving another penalty when the linesman called otherwise. The judgement of the referees cost us the match. The players were demotivated and lost focus from all the wrong calls," continued Hj Feisal.

But the manager is looking to forget the let down and is eyeing a positive result in the last game.

"We have to go all out tomorrow (Saturday). I leave it to the players to make it possible. We have to continue to work hard and be united," Hj Feisal said.

"We will never give up and we hope to come out at the winning end regardless of qualifying or not."

Emerson Alcantara, meanwhile, is looking for his team to qualify for the first time for the tournament proper, but he is not being overconfident.

"I respect Brunei because they are a good team. This is football and it is full of surprises. Let us play and finish the game," said Alcantara, who led his side to their first triumph in competition history with a 5-1 thumping of Cambodia last Friday.

"We are confident heading into the game and we want to get the results. Nothing is easy in football but it should be a good match," the Brazilian added.

The match kicks off at 6pm local time (7.30pm Brunei time).

The first match between Myanmar and Laos starts at 3pm.

The Brunei Times

Wasps pay dear penalties

Friday, October 12, 2012
TWO second half penalties spelt the end of Brunei's chances of qualifying for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup yesterday.

The national football team fell 3-1 to Laos in the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon, the result putting them fourth in the five-team table with three points from as many games.

It is still mathematically possible for the Wasps to advance to next month's tournament proper though, but they have to beat Timor Leste by four goals in their final match tomorrow and hope that Myanmar defeat Laos.

The hosts look certain to clinch one of the two berths on offer with their 3-0 win over Cambodia in yesterday's second game, and will be seeking for a perfect four out of four when they take on Laos in tomorrow's other match.

This however is not set in stone as wins by Timor Leste and Laos would put the three teams on nine points each with goal difference deciding who would qualify for the tournament proper.

Dominating possession, Laos had the first chance of the game in the 10th minute after Ketsada Souksavanh fired a low shot which was saved by Wardun Yussof, the attempt coming after he had a free-kick which failed to clear the wall.

Brunei should have taken the lead three minutes later when Laos goalkeeper Sengphachan Bounthisanh dropped the ball in the box, allowing Muhd Azwan Ali Rahman to feed Md Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir on the right.

Md Aminuddin, though, could only send his attempt wide.

Brunei broke the deadlock in the 26th minute when captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis curled in a long-range free-kick to the top-left corner after Md Najib Hj Tarif had been brought down by Saynakhonevient Phommapanya.

The Wasps almost doubled their lead in the 33rd minute, Shahrazen Said sending in a cross from the right which Md Najib got his head to but saw his effort sail just wide.

Laos equalised a minute later after a slip by Muhd Afi Aminuddin saw Kovanh Namthavixay gather the ball inside the box and chip it past Wardun.

The Sultanate had a good chance to go back in front three minutes before the break when Rosmin's free-kick was met by Adi Said, who saw his backward header hit the crossbar.

Brunei were given a let-off early in the second half when going on a counterattack, Khampheng Sayavutthi outran the Brunei defence and fired at goal from just outside the box only to be denied by the crossbar.

The rebound was met by captain Visay Phaphouvannin, and though he had time to place his shot, his effort from some eight metres out was well off target.

Brunei fell behind on the hour mark when Laos were awarded a penalty after Sairol Hj Sahari brought Visay down in the box, and though Khampheng had to retake the spot kick, he made no mistake either time.

Brunei almost equalised in the 64th minute but Sengphachan put up a good save to prevent Muhd Azwan from scoring, and the Laos shot-stopper was also called to action in the 71st minute when he had to clear his line to deny Shahrazen.

Muhd Azwan found the back of the net a minute later after heading in a cross from the left but was ruled out for offside.

The Sultanate suffered a huge setback eight minutes from time after Laos were awarded a controversial penalty.

Soukaphone Vongchiengkham went down easily after Muhd Afi's challenge but the referee pointed to the spot, and substitute Kanlaya Sysomvang sent Wardun the wrong way to put his team up 3-1.

However, there was more drama before the final whistle as the referee once again pointed to the spot after judging that Sairol had brought down another Laos player though he would later change his mind and award Brunei a free-kick.

The Brunei Times

'Refs cost Brunei AFF Suzuki Cup qualification'

Friday, October 12, 2012
THE Sultanate's fate at the AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Suzuki Cup 2012 Qualifiers may very well be handed to them by the referees.

The national football team fell to a 3-1 loss at the hands of Laos yesterday at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon.

The referee gave Laos two penalties in the second half that sealed the win for them.

With both teams tied with three points each prior to the game, a draw or a win would have kept Brunei's hopes alive on making it to the tournament proper to be held from Nov 24 - Dec 22.

They now have to beat Timor Leste by a four-goal margin and hope that Myanmar, who have virtually secured one of the two berths, beat Laos tomorrow.

National football coach Kwon Oh-son was upset with the decisions made by the referees yesterday and felt that some of the calls were unjust.

"The game was decided by the referee. There has been continuous development of football in the ASEAN region with players and coaches but the quality of referees is not keeping pace," said Kwon after the loss.

"The quality of football is getting better and we have many supporters of the game. The referees need to improve," he added.

Muhd Afi Aminuddin was judged to have brought down Soukaphone Vongchiengkham in the 82nd minute inside the box.

Kwon disagrees with the decision as the latter had gone down easily to win the spot kick.

"I thought it was a good and clean tackle. The referee got it wrong on that one," said Kwon.

Nonetheless, the South Korean also felt that the level of fitness of his team was not ready for back-to-back matches.

"We prepared ourselves mentally and physically for the match but we lacked the fitness compared to our opponents," said Kwon.

"We have only trained together for a short term. There was not enough recovery for the players to play back-to-back games. They couldn't play to their best performance," he added.

Laos head coach Kokichi Kimura, manwhile, was glad to take all three points to their hopes alive on qualification.

"If we lost today (Thursday) then we would have no chance to play in the next round," said Kimura.

"It was not an easy game but it was important that we pick up the three points," he added.

Myanmar have won all three of their matches so far and are at the top of the five-team table with nine points.

However, they are not guaranteed a berth yet should both Timor Leste and Laos win their matches by the appropriate margins.

The Brunei Times

10 October 2012

Coach's half-time pep talk that spurred the boys

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
KWON Oh-son's half-time team talk sure woke the national football team up. Down 1-0 at the break, the Wasps scored three goals in the span of 18 minutes to defeat Cambodia 3-2 in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers yesterday a vital win which kept alive their hopes of progressing to next month's main event.

The pressure was on the team to perform and the national coach knew just how important a win which would be their first in four years would be if they wanted to avoid disappointing the thousands of football fans back home.

"I told them that everyone back home is watching us and waiting for us to win the match," said Kwon in an interview with The Brunei Times after the win.

"We need to put in everything to ensure we get all three points.

"We knew the problems and we had to fix them.

"Why were we losing?

"There was no ball pressure and we were not moving enough.

"Even world class players cannot do anything on the field if they just stand still!

"The players were only thinking of attacking but lacked the concentration in the first half.

"There was no control or focus.

"They were a little overconfident and had a very loose attitude to start the match.

"There was no cover play and there was no organisation earlier in the match but it was fixed (for the second half)," explained the South Korean.

The national coach knew that they couldn't afford any slip ups and the players responded well to his encouragement.

Their task isn't over yet though, as they now face must-win matches against Laos tomorrow and Timor Leste on Saturday.

"We had a three-day break and have prepared to be ready mentally, and we must keep it going," said Kwon.

"We must continue to be focused and maintain full concentration throughout the remaining matches.

"But today (Tuesday) I'm grateful and thankful to the players for delivering the win for everyone," said Kwon, adding that it was compulsory they win the next two matches to progress. The Brunei Times 

Long wait for win over

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Sultanate put up impressive show in 3-2 victory over Cambodia

THE national football team's long wait for a win is finally over.

Brunei put up a dominating second half performance for their first international victory in four years with a 3-2 victory over Cambodia during yesterday's ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon yesterday.

Their last win was in the 2008 edition of the qualifiers when they recorded a 4-1 triumph over Timor Leste in Cambodia, and though the signs were pointing to another defeat, three goals in the span of 18 second half minutes by Md Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir, Muhd Helmi Zambin and Azwan Muhd Salleh secured a valuable comeback for the Sultanate.

The win gave the team their first points in Myanmar and also improved their chances of booking one of the two tickets for the tournament proper to be held from November 24 December 22, with must win games against Laos tomorrow and Timor Leste on Saturday. The loss spelt the end of the road for Cambodia, who have lost all three of their games. There was little to suggest a Brunei win in the opening minutes of the game though, with the team struggling to match the same kind of intensity they showed during their 1-0 loss to Myanmar on Friday.

The game came to life after a defensive lapse by Brunei in the 30th minute when Prak Mony Udom opened the scoring after receiving a ball inside the box and slotting home past Brunei goalkeeper Wardun Yussof.

It gave the Cambodians plenty of confidence as they continued to press for a second goal, and just four minutes later, stand in captain Keo Sokngon almost doubled the Cambodia lead but saw his volley sail just over the crossbar.

Shahrazen Said had the best chance to level for the Wasps before the break in the 36th minute.

The DPMM FC hitman rose the highest to connect on a Sairol Hj Sahari freekick but saw his effort pushed aside by Cambodia shotstopper Um Vichet.

The Sultanate came out strongly after the break and Shahrazen once again came close to equalising two minutes in when captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis delivered a corner but the striker's header bounced off the ground and went just over the crossbar.

There was a good chance for Cambodia in the 52nd minute on a counterattack when Phourng Sokasana received a throughball from Sokngon down the middle, only to be denied by Wardun.

Shahrazen came close once again three minutes later with a strike but saw his shot saved by Vichet. Piling on the pressure, Brunei finally equalised through Md Aminuddin after he connected on a cross from Sairol moments later.

Cambodia looked like they had regained the lead on the hour mark after Soksana found the back of the net following a goalmouth scramble only to see his efforts disallowed for offside.

Azwan had a good opportunity to put Brunei ahead in the 62nd minute but his shot was saved by the Cambodia keeper.

Vichet was not so lucky with the ensuing corner though, as he could only box the ball out to Muhd Helmi who would score from close range to give the Sultanate the advantage.

Cambodia looked tired from having to play three games in six days and they let in a third goal in the 73rd minute after a cross by Md Najib Hj Tarif was not cleared properly, with Azwan quickly pouncing on the ball and firing home for a 3-1 lead.

The Wasps continued to create but it was Cambodia who would get on the scoresheet with Khim Borey heading home a corner in stoppage time.

Timor Leste picked up their second win of the competition with a 3-1 victory over Laos in the games second match.

The tournament continues tomorrow with Brunei going up against Laos at 3pm (4.30pm Brunei time).

The second game pits Myanmar against Cambodia at 6pm.

The Brunei Times

09 October 2012

Confident Brunei ready for Cambodia

BRUNEI are confident they have what it takes to grab all three points in today's match against Cambodia in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon.

They are coming off a 1-0 loss to hosts Myanmar on Friday but the result which came after an 84th minute goal was seen as a confidence booster for the squad considering how tightly contested the match was against the hosts, who are also the highest-ranked team in the competition.

National coach Kwon Oh-son watched Cambodia's last two matches, a 1-5 thrashing at the hands of Timor Leste on Friday and a 0-1 loss to Laos on Sunday, and he feels he has them figured out.

"They had problems in their defence in their last two matches," said Kwon in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.

"There hasn't been enough cover in defence ... and they gave their opponents too much space.

"We need to attack from both the sides and the middle.

"We will need good combination from the midfield and strikers to penetrate towards the goal.

"We require continuous concentration and focus. Teamwork is equally important as all players need to play as one mind.

"If one out of the 11 doesn't, it can result in our collapse.

"Our players have shown that they can cover well with good organisation on defence and I hope they will continue to follow instructions and keep up the good work.

"We need good concentration and to get good results," added the South Korean.

The national coach is also glad to see the improvements shown in Brunei football taking into account that the Under-21 side defeated Myanmar 3-2 in the semi-finals of the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in March and the senior squad only lost by a goal on Sunday.

The Sultanate is in search of their first international win in four years, with their last victory at this level coming in the 2008 edition of the competition when they defeated Timor Leste 4-1 in Cambodia.

But with their new-found confidence, Kwon believes that win will come sooner than later.

"There used to be a big difference between Brunei and Myanmar football but after the matches we played against them this year, I feel that we are on the same level," said the former South Korea national player.

"The players are feeling confident.

"They used to be afraid of strong teams like Myanmar but that mindset has changed.

"We will try to put up quality football for the rest of the games for our fans and supporters back home," concluded Kwon.

There are slight concerns for Kwon with midfielder Muhd Azwan Ali Rahman and hitman Shahrazen Said both still nursing muscle strains.

Leftback Sairol Sahari, meanwhile, has recovered from a bout of diarrhoea and should be available for selection.

Cambodia who will be out of the running if they lose today will be missing captain Sun Sophana who was sent off an hour into the loss against Laos.

The match kicks off at 3pm local time (4.30pm).

The second match pits Timor Leste against Laos at 6pm.

The Brunei Times

07 October 2012

Stay focused, HRH tells team

Sunday, October 7, 2012
IT COULD have been a night to remember but it was not meant to be.

The national football team fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Myanmar in an ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2012 qualifier in Yangon on Friday night, playing their hearts out in a game they deserved to get a point out of considering the amount of chances they had.

Sitting out the 2010 edition, the match at the Youth Training Centre was Brunei's toughest test in years considering that the hosts are the highest FIFA-ranked team in the competition at 184th while the Sultanate are 23rd. It didn't show on the pitch though.

Brunei dominated the first half with several chances and their organised defence frustrated the hosts who had a hard time finding space inside the attacking third.

The Wasps continued to hold their ground as the match progressed and it looked like both teams were going to share the spoils in an entertaining match.

But Yan Aung Win had other plans and scored the game winner after a fumble by goalkeeper Wardun Yussof with six minutes to go much to much relief of the home crowd. It was still a commendable performance from the Wasps though, especially since they were going up against the highest ranked team in the qualifiers.

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the Honorary President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), watched the match and was delighted with the performance of the national side.

HRH, though, wanted to remind the team to stay focused for the rest of the tournament and to take one game at a time.

"The team played very well and I'm happy for them," said HRH in an interview with The Brunei Times after the match.

"They tried their best but we were unfortunate with that one simple mistake.

"They must continue to train hard and work hard. "Their fitness needs to be good and they must continue to stay focused for the upcoming matches and they have to keep trying hard because there may be some tough matches ahead.

"Timor Leste managed to beat Cambodia 5-1 (during Friday's other match) so maybe we can have a chance to beat them too," said HRH, who departed the Myanmar capital yesterday.

The Sultanate will face Cambodia in their next match on Tuesday at the same venue.

They then take on Laos on Thursday before completing their campaign against Timor Leste on Saturday.

The five-team competition continues today with Timor Leste going up against Myanmar at 3pm local time (4.30pm Brunei time).

Laos will play Cambodia in the second match at 6pm. The two best teams will seal a place in the November 24-December 22 tournament proper which will be co-hosted by defending champions Malaysia and Thailand.

The Brunei Times

06 October 2012

Single mistake costs match

Saturday, October 6, 2012
A SINGLE mistake was all it took for the national football team to lose their first match of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2012 qualifiers 1-0 to hosts Myanmar last night.

Brunei looked destined for a well-deserved draw at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon until Myanmar broke the deadlock in the 84th minute when Yan Aung Win smashed home the only goal of the night after a fumble by Brunei goalkeeper Wardun Yussof.

Trying to catch a cross from the left, Wardun failed to get hold of it and instead punched it to Aung Win.

Sitting out the 2010 edition, the match was Brunei's toughest test in years and it was a painful result for the team to swallow.

The game was tightly contested with both teams getting plenty of chances, though Myanmar came out strongly in the early exchanges by putting pressure on the ball and dominating possession.

The hosts were a much faster team and were winning the aerial battle, but it was Brunei who had the first chance of the match after Shahrazen Said found space on the right but saw his effort float just over the crossbar in the 14th minute.

The Sultanate got another chance in the 29th minute when captain Rosmin Hj Mohd Kamis provided a short corner kick to Muhd Azwan Ali Rahman, who skipped past his defender and sent in cross which was met by Shahrazen though his effort sailed inches off the right post.

Myanmar were definitely missing the services of the attacking duo of Yan Paing and Kyaw Ko Ko as it took them 32 minutes to carve their first chance of the game.

Kyi Lin found his way into the penalty area after a counter-attack and unleashed a shot that beat Wardun but failed to hit the target.

Rosmin once again threatened through a set-piece with a 39th minute free-kick just outside the box, which Myanmar keeper Thiha SI Thu had to be in full stretch to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Shahrazen's brother Adi had the last chance of the first half in the 42nd minute but couldn't control his shot and get it on target.

Both teams came out in search of a goal after the break and Adi had three chances in the span of five minutes but saw all of them saved by the Myanmar custodian.

Kyi Lin continued to be a threat with his pace and strength and he had a good chance in the 72nd minute after beating his defender but unable to evade Wardun at the near post.

Kyi Lin had another chance with a header two minutes later but saw his effort just wide off the post.

Timor Leste sent a message to the rest of the teams in the competition with a 5-0 thrashing of Cambodia in the tournament opener earlier in the day.

The Sultanate will have a short break with their next match on Tuesday against Cambodia.

The tournament continues with Timor Leste going up against Myanmar at 3pm local time tomorrow while Laos take on Cambodia at 6pm. The Brunei Times

Brunei FA Cup to kick off Oct 16

Saturday, October 6, 2012
THERE will be no shortage of action in the local football scene when the second round of the DST Brunei FA Cup tournament resumes on October 16.

Twenty-two teams are still in the mix for the first DST Brunei FA Cup. Hijrah FT, Besa FC, Indera SC, Muara Vella FC, Prison Department, Rimba Star FC, MPKS Matan, Tunas FC, Kilanas FC, Jerudong FC, Sporting FT, LLRC FT, Najip FC, QAF FC, Sewira FC, Majara FC, IKLS FC, Setia Perdana FC, Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB), Royal Brunei Police Forces Sports Council (MS PDB), Lun Bawang FC and BSRC all made it to the second round of the tournament.

After a three-month break due to the fasting month of Ramadhan, Hari Raya and Brunei Games, the DST Brunei FA Cup teams in the Sultanate will finally go into action this month.

Tournament director Hj Mohd Taha Hj Mohd Tahir said the tournament would return this month, adding that details of the second round matches have yet to be confirmed.

"InsyaAllah, the DST Brunei FA Cup will start on October 16. It was a long break for the Brunei FA Cup football teams after the fasting month and the Brunei Games," Hj Mohd Taha said.

"Some of the players in the Brunei FA Cup have also been involved in the AFF Suzuki Cup over the past months," Hj Mohd Taha added.

The players who are currently in Myanmar for the AFF Suzuki Cup include Azri Zahari (Majra FC), Maududi Hilmi Kasmi (Majra FC), Hamizan Abdul Aziz (Indera SC), Md Afi Aminuddin (Indera SC), Md Azwan Ali Rahman, Md Nurikhwan, Haizul Rani Metussin (MS ABDB), Affendy Hj Akub (MS ABDB), and Mohd Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir (Muara Vella FC).

The remaining 11 players in the squad are from DPMM FC, who are not involved in the DST Brunei FA Cup.

Kicking off on June 10, a total of 44 teams entered the first round of the competition, which is open to both league and non-league sides in the Sultanate.

"We have been training daily. We have been focusing on the fitness of the players. There were no friendly games due to unavailability of a football field. We are only aiming at reaching the semi-finals of the tournament," assistant manager of the LLRC FT Ahmad Sazarin HJ Ahmad Sabli said.

Meanwhile, Kilanas FC assistant manager Mohd Radzuan Hj Madali is confident ahead of the second round of the tournament.

"We have been training everyday for the past month. The squad looks good at the moment and we will face any team in the tournament. We are going to play a friendly game against football teams in Labuan," Mohd Radzuan added.

The winners of the DST Brunei FA Cup 2012 will receive a challenge trophy, gold medals and a cash prize of $4,000.

The runners-up will receive a trophy and medals, along with prize money of $3,000. The Brunei Times

We didn't deserve to lose, says disappointed coach

Saturday, October 6, 2012
KWON Oh-son (pic) believes the national football team didn't deserve to lose against Myanmar last night.

A lone goal by Yan Aung Win in the 84th minute settled the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2012 qualifying tie at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon, but it was a win that the hosts had to fight until the final whistle. The national coach was expecting to at least share the spoils or even claim what would have been a famous victory over the hosts in a match that was telecast live to thousands of Bruneians back home but it was not to be. "I was quite confident we could get a positive result," Kwon told The Brunei Times after the match.

"The team put up a really good performance tonight (Friday night) and I thought we were quite unlucky (and) our opponents were lucky.

"I would like to apologise to all the supporters back home since we didn't manage to get anything out of the match," added the South Korean. His counterpart and former teammate in the South Korean national team was relieved to have escaped with the win.

"We didn't play at our best," admitted Myanmar coach Park Sung-hwa. Maybe it was because it was our first match but we will need to pick up on our defence in the next matches.

"Brunei are a strong team and they were very organised. They played well and used good speed," noted Park. Among the players who impressed for Brunei last night were midfielder Muhd Azwan Ali Rahman and left-back Sairol Hj Sahari, both of whom battled on despite being sick but were eventually substituted.

"They are not at their full potential yet I credit them for doing all they could on the field," said Brunei manager Hj Feisal Hj Eusoff.

"I'm impressed with the result especially since Myanmar were playing at home, and I hope we can keep it up.

"We all know that Myanmar are one of the best teams in the region.

"They have been playing together for a while compared to us but I thought we played well and beyond expectations tonight. This is only our first game and we will move on now. Our second game (against Cambodia on Tuesday) is an important one and we need the win." The Brunei Times

05 October 2012

Brunei face Myanmar today

Friday, October 5, 2012

KWON Oh-son knows how Brunei can overcome hosts Myanmar in their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers today.

The qualifiers in Yangon mark the national team's toughest test in years and a trip to the tournament proper will prove that Brunei football is on the right track after winning the Under-21 Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in March which came after a win against Myanmar in the semi-finals.

Though Kwon coached that victorious Under-21 side as well, he is fully aware that mentoring the national team is a whole different ball game he seems confident enough.

"We need to be organised in defence and also be strong on the counterattack. This is the combination that we need," the national coach told The Brunei Times yesterday.

"Myanmar are a good team. They are very physical, have good balance and always put good pressure on the ball.

"They have one of the best strikers and are also strong at midfield, but their weakness is at both their rightback and leftback," he added.

Kwon might not have known it but Kaung Si Thu is the only recognised striker available to Myanmar at the moment following injuries to Yan Paing and Kyaw Ko Ko, as reported on the AFF Suzuki Cup website.

The Sultanate are coming off a disappointing 5-0 loss in an international friendly to Indonesia last Wednesday but the South Korean insists it has not affected his team's confidence.

"Most important for our team is mental toughness," said Kwon.

"We are prepared for it and we must not have any fear against them (Myanmar).

"We already know their weak points and we have to exploit that to our advantage," added the former defender.

Kwon will be facing a familiar face today when goes up against Myanmar coach Park Sung-hwa, both of whom were in their country's squad that took part in the 1980 AFC Asian Cup in Kuwait and have remained in close contact since hanging up their boots.

Having featured in every edition of the Suzuki Cup, Myanmar are favourites to repeat that feat.

Their record is in stark contrast to Brunei, who have not appeared or gone past the qualifying round since 1996 taking a break in 2010 because of the country's suspension by FIFA.

But with Kwon at their helm, Park isn't about to write off the visitors.

"He (Kwon) is a few years younger than me but we played together for Korea and I know him well," said the Myanmar coach.

"He is a good coach and I know that he always tries very hard to get the best from his teams that is his strong point.

"He has coached the national team in Brunei for a long time so he knows the team well and he also got a good result with their Under-21 team earlier this year (at the HBT) when they beat Myanmar in the semi-finals and won the tournament," he added.

The match kicks off at 6pm local time (7.30pm Brunei time) at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon.

The first match pits Cambodia against Timor Leste at 3pm local time.

Laos make up the other team in the five-country qualifiers, with the top two progressing to next month's main event.

Earlier yesterday, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the Honorary President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam, left for Myanmar. Present at the Brunei International Airport to bid farewell to HRH were Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Haji Hazair Haji Abdullah and other senior officials from the ministry.

(Additional reporting by Jason Thomas) The Brunei Times

03 October 2012

Commitment is key as Wasps fly for Myanmar FOOTBALL

Jason Thomas


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

ROSMIN Hj Md Kamis has urged his teammates to give it their all in their fight for a place in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

The national football team left to Myanmar for the Suzuki Cup qualifiers yesterday and they will be the first to admit they could be better prepared.

The team started training in July but the late addition of 11 DPMM FC players in mid-September the players were unable to join earlier due to their tight Singapore League fixture means the side needs more time to gel.

Though they might not be fully prepared, more important for the team's captain is that they play with passion.

"I just want the players to be fully committed," said Rosmin minutes before boarding the plane yesterday.

Rosmin, who also captains DPMM FC, knows the country faces an uphill task to qualify for the Nov 24-Dec 22 tournament proper which will be co-hosted by defending champions Malaysia and Thailand, especially with a tricky tie against hosts Myanmar in Friday's opener at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon.

Brunei take on Cambodia next Tuesday, Laos on Thursday and finish against Timor Leste on Saturday.

"We just have to take it one game at a time," said the skipper.

Brunei did not compete in the 2010 edition due to the country's suspension by FIFA, but the last time the Sultanate took part in Cambodia in 2008, the entire team list was made up of DPMM FC players - most of whom have returned.

The 2008 campaign saw Brunei start off with a 1-1 draw with the Philippines before beating Timor Leste 4-1, their last international win at the senior level.

They lost to Laos 3-2 and fell 2-1 to Cambodia in their last game, the result meaning that the hosts would qualify at the expense of Brunei.The Brunei Times ..

02 October 2012

No surprises in nat'l team

Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NATIONAL coach Kwon Oh-son yesterday named a predictable final 20-man squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying tournament to be staged in Myanmar from Friday. The team will leave today.

Among the 12 DPMM FC players who were shortlisted only defender Md Amalul Ariffin Shah Said did not make the cut.

DPMM FC players make up the largest contingent after having 11 out of 20 players in the squad.

Despite the DPMM FC players only training with the team since mid-September, Kwon is putting his faith in them.

Kwon is focused on beating Myanmar in their first game on Friday and is less concerned about the others in the group pitting Laos, Cambodia and Timor Leste.

The top two teams will progress to the main tournament from November 24 to December 22 which will be co-hosted by Malaysia and Thailand.

"Our full attention is on our first game against Myanmar. We want to win and then see what happens after that," he said yesterday during the handing over of the sponsorships for the national team by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

We only have short-term training with the DPMM FC players and the squad is continuously building. I have not coached the DPMM FC players before but I trust their individual skills and abilities," he added.

DPMM FC and Myanmar squad are at the same level. That is why it is important to have the DPMM FC players in the squad as they are the only professional players in the country, added the South Korean

The squad however, will be without their key central defender Reduan Hj Petara who suffered rib cage fracture during the friendly match against Indonesia on Wednesday.

Reduan was stretchered out and substituted immediately after colliding with goalkeeper Md Fakhrul Zulhazmi Yussof midway through the second half of Brunei's 5-0 defeat at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium in Berakas on Wednesday.

"Reduan is out with an injury. He is always the first choice centre-back and one of the best players for us. It is a big loss," said Kwon.

Kwon seem worried about Reduan's injury and Affendy Hj Yakup of Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) has been called up in his place.

Apart from Reduan, others who did not make it were Mohd Khairul Amin, Ak Mohd Safri Pg Othman, Mohd Mazazizi Mazlan, Mohd Amir Ajmal Mohd Tahir and Julremi Hj Zaini.

The national team also received a timely boost ahead of the tournament following the jersey, track suit and sports facilities sponsorship from the MCYS yesterday.

Present during the handing over of sponsorship ceremony was the Minister of the MCYS, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah.

The Brunei Times ..

Brunei, Sabah in tame draw

Jason Thomas


Monday, October 1, 2012

THE NATIONAL football team came up with an unconvincing 1-1 draw against Sabah in a friendly last night, their final game before leaving to Myanmar for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers tomorrow.

Though the team were in control for large parts of the match and carved numerous chances, their poor finishing cost them the win. More importantly though, it is obvious that the team has yet to gel and look like an experimental side.

The squad is constantly evolving and yesterday's performance in front of a sparse crowd at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas was the first time players from DPMM FC and those from the Under-21 side which won the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in March combined with the new faces in the team three separate factions trying to work together as one.

Though DPMM FC players such as Md Najip Hj Tarif and Md Hendra Azam Md Idris featured for the side during their 5-0 loss to Indonesia in a friendly on Wednesday, and during a series of friendlies against Malaysian clubs last month, last night's game saw the appearance of DPMM FC captain Rosmin Hj Kamis, strikers Shahrazen Said and his brother Adi, midfielder Azwan Salleh and goalkeeper Wardun Yussof for the first time in national colours.

Except for Rosmin, the other four started on the bench with coach Kwon Oh-son eventually changing the whole team as the game wore on. Shahrazen's introduction in the 63rd minute along with Azwan and Wardun was met with huge applause and helped to stir the team to life, with the hosts looking hungrier for the ball and more dangerous going forward.

It was was Shahrazen's 70th minute defence-splitting through ball to DPMM FC teammate Pg Hj Hassan that helped the national team edge ahead after the latter coolly slotted home past Sabah custodian Irwan Jamil's near post proving just how instrumental Shahrazen, the joint top scorer during the Malaysian Super League (MSL) 2006/2007 season, still is.

But the wholesale changes took its toll on the team and poor defensive organisation two minutes from time saw the impressive Shahrudin Yakup equalise with a thundering shot to the top-left corner after Brunei failed to clear the ball after a free-kick into the box which also might allude to a lack of focus.

Though the result was not important, what was more pressing for Kwon was how well his team has gelled or rather, failed to.

The team started training in July but the 13 DPMM FC players were only roped in in mid-September due to their tight Singapore League fixture. Only training with the team in the mornings, they are forced to miss the evening training sessions because of DPMM FC practice.

With time no longer on their side, Kwon knows he has a tough task on his hands as the team prepares to face hosts Myanmar in their opener on Friday.

"I'm not happy with the performance," said the coach.

"The team is continuously building and we are not prepared.

"The DPMM FC players only had a few training sessions with the team and they do not yet understand what I want of them on the pitch.

"They are the best of the best ... it's just that we have not had enough time to train together," added the South Korean.

His counterpart, though, seemed more optimistic.

A forward who made 110 appearances for Manchester United from 1974-1979, David McCreery also feels that Brunei should enjoy themselves at Myanmar and not put any undue pressure on themselves.

"Brunei are a young team and I think they will only get stronger," said McCreery

"I think when they go to Myanmar they should not worry about anything and just work hard. If it comes off, it comes off.

"Their coach will have to make a lot of difficult decisions but I'm sure he will do his best," added the coach.

The Sultanate also face Cambodia next Tuesday, Laos two days later and Timor Leste on Oct 13 with the two best teams advancing to the Nov 24-Dec 22 tournament proper which will be co-hosted by defending champions Malaysia and Thailand.

The Brunei Times ..