NATIONAL futsal coach Qusmaini Noor bin Haji Rusli was happy with his Under-20 players despite their 6-1 loss to Iraq in their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-20 Futsal Championship match in Bangkok on Wednesday.
His players had started their campaign with a 14-1 defeat to Afghanistan in their first game on Tuesday but performed better in their second game, especially in the second half when they controlled the game and limited Iraq to two goals.
Brunei goalkeepers Muhammad Nadziran Haji Abdul Mutalib and Awangku Muhammad Asadullah Shafee bin Pengiran Haji Asaduzzaman did well to keep the team in the game, said Qusmaini.
“The players played better today,” said Qusmaini. “I hope they improve their quality of play in their next game against Thailand.
“They tried their best to reduce the mistakes they committed in the first game, and overall, it was a positive change.
“Iraq are among the title favourites. They are a very strong team and have many players playing in the Iranian league.
“We committed a few mistakes in the first 10 minutes to allow Iraq to score three goals, but in the second half the players showed more confidence and only let in one goal in the first 10 minutes and another with 59 seconds to go,” he added.
An unmarked Fahad Methaq Al Azzawi put Iraq ahead with a fourth minute volley after connecting on a kick-in from the left, and though Iraq would continue to control possession with their quick passes, they could not penetrate Brunei’s defence and were limited to long-range shots.
Brunei were defending in numbers but let in a second goal when a pass from the left opened space for Muheb Aldeen Al Taei to score in the 13th minute.
It was 3-0 a minute later when a through ball to Gaith Riyadh Arabi split Brunei’s defence, and Hasan Kadhim Hilfi widened the lead after dribbling through the middle and slotting home just before the break.
Awangku Muhammad Asadullah came up with a few key stops in the second half and overall, the team moved the ball around better and closed down space faster after the break.
Hasan made it 5-0 after a shot from the left before Brunei pulled one back through Muhammad Abdul Azim Zaini, who took advantage of a mistake by Iraq to score with a long-range effort from Brunei’s half – and the Iraqi goalkeeper off his line.
Muheb made it 6-1 in the dying stages with a header after a goal-mouth scramble.
The day’s other games saw Afghanistan beat Malaysia 4-1 and Thailand beat Bahrain 4-0.
Brunei take on Bahrain today before finishing their Group A campaign against Malaysia tomorrow.