Brunei Darussalam under-23 head coach Aminuddin bin Jumat called his newly-assembled charges to perform well in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-23 Championship in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The Young Wasps are set to face hosts Cambodia at the Morodok Techo National Stadium today, ending the country’s long wait for a first competitive international appearance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aminuddin said in a pre-match interview, “For Brunei Darussalam, all teams represent competition which can help the national team to grow and develop.
“I hope that our past training sessions will bear fruit. This marks the first time that the Sultanate are able to set foot overseas to play football since the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.”
He concluded, “We hope that the national team can perform well in the AFF Under-23 arena.”
DPMM FC defender Wafi Aminuddin has been designated as team captain while his club teammate Muhammad Nur Asyraffahmi bin Norsamri is vice-captain.
Boasting the most appearances in the team with seven each, the duo will feature in their third tournament after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship qualifiers in Hanoi, Vietnam in March 2019 and the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Manila, Philippines in December 2019.
The national under-23 team held a training session before their first group match at the Smart RSN Stadium yesterday.
Brunei will also play Timor Leste at the same venue three days later before concluding their group stage against Philippines at the Prince Stadium on February 20.
The winners from each group will directly qualify to the knock-out stage, which commences on February 24, and will be joined by the best runner-up team.
The losing semi-finalists will be paired against each other in the third-place playoff while the winners will play for the title in the final with both matches to be staged on February 26.
The AFF Under-23 Championship represents Brunei’s maiden appearance in the competition, thus completing their participation at various age-group levels including the under-16 and under-19 competitions.
The national under-23 team withdrew from the competition when it was last hosted in 2019.
In July last year, the Sultanate had originally been drawn in the AFC Under-23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022 Qualifiers but withdrew from the meet following the second wave of COVID-19 infections.
At under-23 level, Brunei’s most recent participation was the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Manila, Philippines in late 2019.
The AFF Under-23 Championship is one of five main tournaments which the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (FABD) has planned to take part this year.
The national football governing body views regional tournaments as an important platform to raise the standard of national teams and individual players.