02 October 2012

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 ..

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