Brunei Darussalam’s national football team marked their return to action in front of home fans with a 3-0 loss to Maldives during a Tier I international friendly match at the Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas yesterday.
The match marked the senior national team’s first international appearance on home soil since the second leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Round 1 qualifiers against Mongolia in June 2019.
It was also the first time that the Wasps hosted an international friendly match since a 5-0 loss to Indonesia at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in September 2012.
Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim bin Pengiran Indera Mahkota Pengiran Anak (Dr) Kemaludin Al-Haj attended to watch the match.
The hosts registered their first shot on target in the 27th minute but Razimie Ramlli’s header did not trouble Maldivian goalkeeper Hussain Shareef.
Maldives grabbed the lead from open play during one of their occasional forays in attack in the 36th minute. Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain laid a neat pass to the on-rushing Ibrahim Waheed Hassan who showed composure to slot home beyond the legs of Brunei goalkeeper Haimie anak Nyaring.
The visitors had an opportunity to double their lead but Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain could not keep his header on target after reacting to a cross by Hamza Mohamed.
Brunei captain Hendra Azam then saw his free-kick end up in the arms of the goalkeeper as the home side looked to get into the break all square.
But Maldives, who are ranked 34 places above Brunei, built a two-goal cushion through Hamza Mohamed.
The Wasps were awarded a lifeline with a penalty but substitute Azwan Ali Rahman skied his effort wide.
The Red Snappers completed the scoring deep into injury time through Hassan Raif as Brunei’s newly-appointed coach Mario Rivera Campesino’s first match in charge ended in defeat.
The head coach said during a post-match interview, “We have improved on many aspects and the attitude and spirits of the players were really good.
“We played some good football but we need to improve our level of fitness.
“To build a winning team will be difficult because it is not a normal thing for Brunei football team. But, if we can keep on improving like today and every training session, I think we can go and win a match.”
The Wasps will play Laos next as part of the Tri-Nations series on September 27.
The second match of the series will see Laos, who are ranked seven places ahead of Brunei, take on Maldives on September 24.
Brunei are currently preparing for the upcoming ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup qualifiers against Timor Leste.