THE national Under-18 team returned to Brunei early yesterday morning after completing their Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-18 Championship campaign in Yangon.
The team started their Group B play with a 3-2 win over the Philippines on September 5 and lost their second game 8-1 to Vietnam on September 7. They then fell 7-0 to hosts Myanmar on September 9 and 8-0 to Indonesia on Wednesday.
Competing in a tournament in France in May, Indonesia limited Brazil to only a 1-0 win – showing just how strong the team is.
Present at the Brunei International Airport to welcome the team back were National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Acting General Secretary Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud, NFABD Technical Director Yvon Avry and other NFABD officials.
Speaking to the players and officials before they left to their respective homes, Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal advised them not to let the results affect their mentality.
“Though the results may not have gone our way, think of this (tournament) as a challenge and not a barrier,” said Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal.
“Don’t let this affect your confidence and don’t let negative comments bring you down. Use this as a lesson to become better players,” he added.
As expected, Group B was a tough fight and the top three teams – Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam – all finished with nine points.
Ultimately, the semi-finalists were decided on the head-to-head record between Myanmar and Vietnam – both teams finishing with the same goals scored and allowed, but Myanmar beating Vietnam 2-1 when they met on Wednesday.
Indonesia meet Group A runners-up Thailand in today’s first semi-final at 4.30pm while Myanmar take on Group A winners Malaysia in the second semi-final at 7.30pm.
National Under-18 coach Takao Fujiwara echoed Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal’s comments about not letting the results affect the team’s confidence, saying that he will work on improving the team’s fighting spirit before their next international outing – the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship qualifiers in South Korea which run from October 31 to November 8.