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Brunei wasps to miss out on SEA Games

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam’s national under-23 football team were not included in the official draw for the upcoming 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam from May 6-22.

The other 10 participating teams learnt their group allocation and opponents as they begin their quest towards securing one of the region’s most prestigious football titles.

The draw was revealed exactly a month before the start of the group fixtures between Philippines and Timor Leste, and Indonesia and Vietnam.

The exclusion from the draw means that Brunei will miss out on an appearance in the regional showpiece for the first time in 13 years since the 2009 SEA Games in Vientiane, Laos.

The young Wasps had previously been absent in the football competition having missed out on three consecutive appearances from 2003 to 2007.

Brunei returned to the competition from 2011 onwards, but have been met with a series of disappointing results.

Their last win came against the Philippines that year in Jakarta as Reduan Petara scored the winning goal to complete a 2-1 turnaround victory. During the dead rubber, Adi bin Said had earlier cancelled the young Azkals’ lead after Joshua Beloya McNally opened the scoring.

Since then, Brunei endured a barren run having not registered a single point to their name in four consecutive tournaments.

Their most recent appearance in Manila in 2019 saw them fail to score a single goal in five group stage matches and conceded 31 times, nearly twice the amount than they did in Singapore in 2015.

The official fixture list has also been confirmed with the group matches set to be played from May 6-16.

Group ‘A’ comprise hosts Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Timor Leste, while record winners Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos make up Group ‘B’.