04 February 2015

U-23s set for AFC tourney

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
THE national Under-23 football team are in the later stages of preparation for the upcoming AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Under-23 Championship 2016 Qualifiers, with the squad starting intensive training yesterday after moving to the Sungai Kebun Sports Complex.
“We hope that we can put in as much work as possible over the next three weeks, especially at the defensive end and also on our transition play,” said coach Stephen Ng Heng Seng in an interview with The Brunei Times when met on Monday.
“We are not a very strong team but I believe that we have been working harder than the rest. Neighbouring countries have their teams based overseas,” he added.
“There are some players who are playing with DPMM FC. We don’t have to worry too much about them as long as they are training,” continued Ng.
The team are also eyeing to play some friendly matches in Thailand in early March as well.
The Sultanate have been drawn in Group H and will be up against hosts Indonesia, South Korea and Timor Leste at the March 23-31 event.
Brunei did not enter a team for the previous qualifiers two years ago which was formerly known as the AFC U-22 Championship 2013.
The 10 group winners and five best second-placed teams from all groups will qualify for the tournament proper, where hosts Qatar await.
The AFC U-23 Championship 2016 will act as the Olympics qualifiers in every alternate edition.
The top three teams from the 2016 edition will represent Asia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Brunei set up the squad back in September when they attended a two-week training camp in Japan.
They had their first test at the 8th BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) Friendship Games in Labuan back in December, where they lost out on the bronze medal after slipping to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Sarawak in the third-place playoff.
The side will also be the kept together for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be contested in Singapore in June.
The National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) have a packed scheduled with the confirmation that Brunei will be competing in the first round of the Preliminary Joint Qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Preliminary Competition and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers next month.
The Wasps will be under stand-in national coach Mike Wong Mun Heng, who is also the NFABD technical director.
Players have already been identified and brought together after the Sultanate registered for the qualifiers in mid December last year.
Brunei have been placed in Pot 2 together with Nepal, Macau, Pakistan, Mongolia and Bhutan.
They will only find out who their opponents from Pot 1 – India, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei and Timor Leste – are at the draw to be conducted in Kuala Lumpur next Tuesday.
Brunei will play the away fixture on March 12 and the home match will be contested five days later.

The Brunei Times

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