National Under-18 Football Team to prepare for AFC U-19 championship in Japan

|     Abdul Hakiim Yakof     |

THE Embassy of Japan in Brunei Darussalam announced that the Japan Foundation Asia Centre and the Japan Football Association (JFA) will be hosting the Brunei National Under-18 Football Team in a training camp from August 21 – September 1, to prepare them for the qualifiers of the AFC U-19 Championship 2018 in Myanmar.

The participants were invited to the Embassy of Japan yesterday and were welcomed by the Ambassador of Japan to Brunei Darussalam, Motohiko Kato. The ambassador was present to congratulate the players and coaches to give them encouragement.

“They are wonderful young boys, I hope they can fulfil their potential in the training and come back with strong confidence. I hope they can make friends with the Japanese youth players and establish friendship with them. We would like to continue this programme and we hope that in the near future, our Japanese players will come to Brunei Darussalam,” said Motohiko Kato.

“With the experience they will bring home from the training, we hope that our team will achieve victory in the qualifying in Myanmar next year. So far in the DST Super League, they have shown a lot of improvement in matches so after they learn from better players in Japan, it will increase their skills, understanding and experience. With our lack of exposure internationally, we can make up for it in Japan. They will be more confident in Myanmar,” said Zulkifle bin Haji Duraman, the Team Manager.

The training will take place at J-GREEN SAKAI, one of the best training facilities in Japan, where the team will play friendly matches against the Japan Professional League 1st Division (J1) club’s youth team, Cerezo Osaka and Vissel Kobe. They will also be part of cultural exchange programmes.

The Ambassador of Japan to Brunei Darussalam, Motohiko Kato in a group photo with the Brunei National Under-18 Football Team. - SIM Y H
The Ambassador of Japan to Brunei Darussalam, Motohiko Kato in a group photo with the Brunei National Under-18 Football Team. – SIM Y H

The Brunei national under-18 football team, which is led by a Japanese head coach, Takao Fujiwara, is currently preparing for the upcoming qualifiers for the AFC U-19 Championship 2018 in November.

This programme has been held annually since the initiative was initiated in November 2014 by the Japan Foundation Asia Center, the JFA and the Japan Professional Football League (J-League), to encourage various football exchange programmes within Asia.

The aim of the initiative is to provide opportunities for people-to-people exchanges between football players, teams and enthusiasts to further strengthen the friendship between Japan and other countries and to develop a stronger football culture in Asia.

As part of the initiative, in March 2017, the JFA Center sent coaches of a J1 club, Kashima Antlers, to Brunei and held training sessions for the Brunei national under-18 football team and the Brunei DPMM FC youth team.

The increased exposure to Japan’s football culture and in playing friendly games against youth teams in Japan and Southeast Asia, will hopefully encourage young players to pursue their goal and aspiration of playing in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.