Brunei’s Faiq boosts playing chance with new jersey number

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam’s forward Faiq Jefri Bolkiah has been handed the number 14 jersey for CS Maritimo amid a huge boost on his prospects of making a first appearance for the senior squad.

The Brunei international has not made a single league appearance in the Primeira Liga, the Portuguese top flight, since joining the club as a free agent in September.

Being assigned a new number could boost his hopes for selection to the starting line-up as the player looks to get his first taste of professional football.

The 22-year-old will write the record books as the first Bruneian to play professional football in Europe if he is given the opportunity to play for the Madeira-based club.

Currently, Faiq has strong competition for places with the likes of regular starter Rodrigo Pinho, Francois-Xavier Fumu Tamuzo, Edgar Costa and Iranian new signing Ali Alipour.

Faiq Jefri Bolkiah in action for the Brunei Darussalam under-22 team during the Southeast Asian Games in Manila, the Philippines

Without Faiq in the squad, CS Maritimo drew a blank in a goalless draw against C D Nacional in their latest league match.

The club’s head coach Lito Vidigal said his charges deserved to have won the Madeira derby because of their attitude and willingness to win.

“We had 40 fantastic minutes during the match and we had three clear opportunities. The second part of the game was more balanced,” he said.

“It was a pity that we have not won today because the attitude and the work that these players have shown deserved a victory,” said the Red-Green tactician, before adding that the team will grow with time.

“We are growing. The team has new players and we are gradually creating a way of playing.

“We are trying to find solutions to find a balanced and strong team. It will take some time, but we will find a way.”

Faiq, who has previously captained Brunei’s national team, moved to Portugal after he was released by English Premier League club Leicester City at the end of last season.

Last year, Kota Ranger forward Adi Said made history as the first Bruneian to play in an overseas league professionally for UiTM FC in the Malaysia Premier League.

Meanwhile, Brunei under-19 national player Mohamad Radhi bin Raduan became the first Bruneian to play in an overseas futsal league earlier this year in the Malaysia Premier Futsal League for Sarawak United before it was suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.