AFF youth tournaments postponed to 2021

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam youth teams will not resume competitive action in this year’s ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-16 and Under-19 Youth Championships following the imminent postponement of all ASEAN Football Federation tournaments.

According to the Myanmar Times recently, the AFF will be postponing all tournaments including futsal and beach soccer under their purview this year as the region due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. General Manager of the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) U Ko Ko Thein said, “The AFF has informed that the tournaments will be postponed to 2021 and the dates will only be decided after the federation’s next meeting.”

The postponement came just days after the federation announced the postponement of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020, which was slated to be held at the end of November, until next year.

The Brunei under-16 team last took part in the previous edition of the meet in July last year in Chonburi, Thailand while the under-19 side competed in August last year in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the Brunei national futsal team and local club Arbisyam played in the AFF Futsal Championship and AFF Futsal Club Championship, respectively both in 2018. Shah United became the first futsal club to represent Brunei in the AFF Futsal Club Championship in 2017.

As COVID-19 measures were rolled out in the country, sports came to a standstill and one of the affected sporting events was the Brunei Super League, the country highest level of the football system, which remains suspended since March 13.

Futsal also became one of the major sporting casualties as plans of staging a national league, which was announced during a press conference in January, were made to put on hold.

Earlier this year, the AFF announced that the under-16 and under-19 tournaments will be re-scheduled until late-2020 at a time where cancellations of major sporting events both locally and globally were prevalent in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was renewed optimism of the return of regional football when AFF announced in mid-June that the AFF Suzuki Cup would go ahead in late November, but had eventually decided to postpone the regional meet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in the re-scheduling of domestic football leagues in ASEAN, although the Malaysia Super League (MSL), the top level of football in Malaysia will see a restart in August 26 behind closed doors.

The Cambodian league has also resumed in July following the easing of sports restrictions.