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Brunei start year at 188th in FIFA rankings

Fadhil Yunus

The national football team remained in 188th place in the men’s world rankings following the first instalment of the year released by football world’s governing body FIFA.

The Wasps sit one spot behind regional rivals Laos and are viewed superior in terms of ranking than Sao Tome and Principe, American Samoa and Liechtenstein in the 210-member table.

The national team, which is an affiliated member under the Asean Football Federation (AFF), have Bangladesh, Bhutan and Mongolia on their radar to climb up the rankings.

Meanwhile based on continental rankings allocated for member associations affiliated under the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) only, Brunei remain 42nd out of 46 entries ahead of Timor Leste, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Guam.

Brunei have been largely absent from the international scene since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and recently pulled out of the AFF Suzuki Cup amid the second wave of infections.

The national team are also in the search of a new head coach after Datuk K Rajagobal and Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (FABD) agreed to part ways by mutual consent at the end of last month.

The Malaysian’s untimely departure prompted the need to fill the vacancy of a permanent national head coach for the fourth time in three years.

Former Singapore Under-19 head coach Robbie Servais was at the helm the last time Brunei made an international appearance against Mongolia during the first round of World Cup qualifying in June 2019.

With Servais staying as head coach for a six-week term, Paul Smalley, who also served as the head of player and coach development, succeeded the Dutchman in November that year.

However, his spell in the Sultanate ended after just seven months in similar circumstances as his successor amid the apparent challenges posed by the virus.

Both Datuk K Rajagobal and Paul Smalley left without taking charge of the side in an official international match, though the former led the teams out in two unofficial friendly ties last year.

The national team had underlined their intent of qualifying to the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup since their sole appearance in 1996 following the appointment of Datuk K Rajagobal.

Nevertheless, the country’s interest in the international scene has been revived following the participation of the under-23 team in the AFF Under-23 Championship tomorrow.


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