| Fadhil Yunus |
BRUNEI Darussalam’s national Under-18 (U-18) team prevented an attacking onslaught in the final 30 minutes of play but the damage had already been done following a 5-0 defeat to Indonesia in their opening fixture of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship qualifiers at the Paju Public Stadium in Paju, South Korea yesterday.
Indonesia raced to a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute courtesy of forward Rafli Mursalim who nodded home a cross from Firza Andika with Brunei U-18 goalkeeper Abdul Mutalip Awang failing to punch the ball away.
Indonesia’s captain Egy Maulana Vikri sped past the Bruneian defence before unleashing a shot which ended wide off the mark.
The Medan native tormented the Brunei defence with his close dribbling but his finishing was not accurate to trouble Mutalip after his side flew wide just past the half an hour mark.
Indonesia midfielder Muhammad Iqbal was booked for simulation in the 34th minute which turned out to be the only mischief in the match.
Egy then tested Mutalip with a fierce drive after a touch and go with the goalkeeper pulling off a decent stop.
From the ensuing corner, Asnawi Mangkualam Bahar rose for a header which came off Hariz bin Herman who then accidentally headed the ball into his own net a minute before half-time.
Iqbal raced into the box and combined with Rafli before producing a delicate lob over Mutalip to extend his side even further in the 51st minute.
Egy, who is reported to have been linked with a host of European clubs, showed his nifty footwork before applying a calm finish in a crowded box to make it 4-0.
Indonesia substitute Saddil Ramdani struck a venomous shot from the edge of the box after being set up by a team-mate in the 61st minute to complete the scoring.
That would spell the end of a nightmare for the highly spirited Bruneians though they had short ambitions in attack.
Syahrian Abimanyu played a pass to Iqbal but the latter skied his effort wide while Saddil fired wide after the ball bounced off Muhammad Salleh Emzah with Muhammad Rifad Marasabessy getting no access in the box.
Muhammad Salleh was taken off the pitch on a stretcher after requiring treatment and was replaced by Khairul Alimin bin Muhd Ali.
Rifad’s penetrating run in the box caused mayhem to the Bruneian defence but could not get his pass through.
Saddil burst into the box with a powerful run and laid the ball for Egy who skewed his effort.
The Indonesian talent could have easily scored a hat-trick in a matter of minutes as he contrived to shoot wide following an excellent cutback by substitute Samuel Christianson.
Indonesia had the ball at the back of the net but the referee had already blown the whistle as Egy was found to in an offside position.
Brunei Darussalam national U-18 head coach Takao Fujiwara told AFC, “We recognised the match against Indonesia would be a tough challenge. In the first half my players did their best to keep the stalemate, but failed. The next game will be more challenging, but we will keep fighting to reach our goal.”