| Fadhil Yunus |
HIS Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office attended the second leg of the qualification round of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 between Brunei Darussalam and Timor Leste at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
Also present were His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik and His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah.
Brunei Darussalam national team won 1-0 against Timor Leste but it was not enough to take them into the final round in November after losing 3-2 on aggregate.
The Wasps were hoping to overturn a two-goal deficit after a 3-1 defeat in the first leg at the KLFA Stadium and Najib Tarif’s goal in the 74th minute meant that they were one goal away of sealing qualification.
Brunei Darussalam had a shot on target after Azwan Ali Rahman curled a free-kick straight at Timor Leste goalkeeper Aderito Raul Fernandes.
Shah Razen Said exhibited calm on the ball through his close control and laid the ball wide for Faiq Jefri Bolkiah who shot straight at Aderito.
Brunei found it tough to contain the pace of Timor Leste forward Joao Pedro Da Silva Freitas and his cross-cum-shot caused plenty of concerns for Brunei goalkeeper Haimie anak Nyaring who palmed the ball away for a corner.
Timor Leste midfielder Henrique Wilson Da Cruz Martins, the two-goal hero from the first leg, had an attempt from outside the box but ended straight into the arms of Haimie.
The visitors came close in breaking the deadlock after Rufino Walter Gama’s free-kick cleared the bar.
Shah Razen then directed his header straight at Aderito just before the end of the first half.
The hosts survived a scare after Haimie kept out a fierce drive from range after the player was given space.
Brunei breathed a sigh of relief after a slip from the defence allowed Rufino to collect a loose ball but his shot was aimed straight at Haimie. The visitors missed another opportunity after Joao Pedro dragged his shot wide in the hour mark after a quick counter attacking move.
Shah Razen lifted the crowd after coming close to open the scoring with his free-kick which flew just wide.
The Wasps came mightily close in opening the scoring after Faiq Jefri Bolkiah’s powerful strike was pushed away by Aderito after latching from a cutback by Helmi Haji Zambin.
From the ensuing corner, Brunei got the first goal they craved as Najib responded the quickest in a goalmouth scramble to steer the ball home.
The hosts were living on a knife-edge as Rufino darted into the box but Haimie kept out his shot with a smart save.
Haimie was kept alert as Rufino took a shot inside the box after reacting to a rebound and somehow the Bruneian defence managed to clear the ball to safety following frantic defending.
Brunei head coach Kwon said of the team’s performance, “We dominated throughout the 90 minutes. Our game plan was to attack and score goals and hopefully proceed to the group stage.
“The players did well but, however, there was a lack of finishing. There were a lot of chances that we were able to score but the lack of finishing cost our game in the end.
“However, the performance was there and hopefully the players can look at the performance and the experience of this painful win. Hopefully they are able to gain more experience in other competitions and hopefully we perform better in the next AFF Suzuki Cup,” he said.
Meanwhile, Timor Leste head coach Norio Tsukitate said, “I told the players to just relax and enjoy the game. Football is about scoring and that is why you have to score or don’t let them (the opponent) score.”
With the progress, Timor Leste are now drawn in Group ‘B’ of the main tournament – which kicks off on November 8 – alongside Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.