12 July 2014

HBT team target semi-final

Thursday, July 10, 2014
THE national Under-21 football team is targeting a place in the semi-final of next month’s Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy.
Coming into the tournament as the defending champions after defeating Indonesia 2-0 in the last final in 2012, Brunei is looking to replicate their success at the August 9 to 23 tournament.
Second-half goals from Md Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir and Adi Said at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium helped Brunei to lift their first HBT title since its inauguration in 2002, and there is no doubt that there is pressure on the hosts to perform well.
“The tournament will be quite tough and expectations from the public are very high as we have won the previous edition of the tournament,” said the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports’ (MCYS) Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar, who is also the chairman of the tournament’s committee, during a press conference yesterday.
“We are hoping that we can qualify for the second round and play in the semi-final, and we also hope that we will get the full support from the public in the tournament.
“Anything can happen in football but the national team has been practicing since January under national coach Kwon Oh-son.
“Currently we have 26 players training in the team and the number will be cut down to 20 players, and then we will have the final selection to choose 18 players.
“But the main challenge for the management of the team will be putting the best 11 players for the tournament,” he added.
Most of the players have laced up in regional tournaments such as the Malaysia Games (SUKMA), Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and tournaments oganised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The organisers also have announced that each team will be able to bring in five overage players, but only three will be allowed to play in each match.
“DPMM FC have cooperated to let three players - Adi Said, Mohd Hendra Azam Mohd Idris and Mohd Najib Hj Tarif - assist the national team,” continued Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid.
“We also will be getting sponsorship from Lotto, a company from Singapore to supply the sports facilities and equipment for the national team in the tournament,” he added.
Najib captained the side that won the tournament in 2012, during which he and Hendra played key midfield roles.
Adi, meanwhile, finished with five goals to his name alongside Indonesia's Andik Vermansyah – with Myanmar captain Kyaw Zayar Win ending as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals.
The striker was named the best player of the tournament, his 75th minute goal in the final giving Brunei a two-goal lead which secured victory.
Except for Brunei's final group stage game against Timor Leste, which Adi had to sit out due to suspension, he was on the scoresheet in every other match the Sultanate played in during 2012 -scoring a goal each against Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia in the group stage and finding the net during the 3-2 win against Myanmar in the semis.
Only three countries: Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei, have won the tournament since its introduction in 2002.
Thailand, who sat out of the competition two years ago, won the tournament back in 2007 by beating Myanmar 5-4 on penalties. Thailand also beat Myanmar to lift the 2005 edition of the trophy while Indonesia won the inaugural competition in 2002.

The Brunei Times

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