24 March 2015

Under-23s off to Indonesia

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

THE national Under-23 football team are going into the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Under-23 Championship 2016 qualifiers in Jakarta as underdogs but are not going there without a fight.
Brunei are in Group H alongside hosts Indonesia, South Korea and Timor Leste for the March 27-31 event at the Bung Karno Stadium. Coach Stephen Ng Heng Seng knows the tall order they face but believes they can put up a good fight.
“This is a tough group and will be a good test as we are in the process of developing the players,” said Ng before their departure at the Brunei International Airport in Berakas last night.
“We are taking the qualifiers very seriously. But as much as we want to qualify, we have to be realistic.
“There are two very good teams (Indonesia and South Korea) who are well proven. We have prepared the boys to focus on the game and not get distracted and intimidated by the crowd against the hosts.
“The boys will gain from this experience having to play the giants of Asia and I believe that we can put up some good performances,” continued Ng.
The qualifiers are seen as a good build up for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore in June.
The squad was set up back in September before starting intensive training in early February.
The team underwent training in Thailand two weeks ago and had three friendly matches – one against a Division 1 team and two from Division 2.
“We lost all three games by a narrow margin but it is a good step forward,” said Ng.
“They made big improvement compared to couple months ago. They are more confident and composed.
“Technically they have improved and this is a good way to assess where we are now. We can see what we have to continue to work on to improve,” he said.
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 will qualify for the tournament proper in Qatar.

The Brunei Times

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