13 October 2012

'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

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