Brunei withdraw from AFC under-23 qualifiers

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam’s under-23 national football team recently withdrew from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers as the nation is still battling the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Indonesian football news portal Bola, the AFC informed the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) through a letter that Brunei has withdrawn from the qualifying campaign. In the letter signed by AFC Secretary General Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC said, “We regret to inform that Brunei Darussalam has confirmed its withdrawal from qualification.”

Indonesia was originally designated as group hosts when the draw was announced in July but AFC has since moved the venue to Dunshanbe, Tajikistan.

PSSI Chairman Mochamad Iriawan said, “It is difficult for foreigners to enter Indonesia so the qualification will be moved to Tajikistan.”

The young Wasps had initially been drawn in Group ‘G’ alongside Australia, Indonesia and the People’s Republic of China, who also withdrew from the qualifiers earlier this month due to the pandemic.

The withdrawals meant that Group ‘G’ will be reduced to only two teams with Indonesia and Australia playing each other twice at the Pamir Stadium in Dunshanbe on October 27 and 30.

The qualifying campaign is scheduled to begin from tomorrow until October 31 with 11 group winners and four best runner-up teams advancing into the main competition in June next year.

Several Asian teams are undergoing training at centralised venues with Thailand under-23 team fine-tuning their preparations at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and the Philippines under-23 team putting on their final touches in Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia under-23 team recently arrived in Ulaanbaatar ahead of their qualifying campaign in Group J alongside Mongolia, Laos and Thailand.

Brunei’s under-23 team last appearance was in the qualifying campaign in March 2019 where they were pooled in Group ‘K’ with Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

A late penalty miss denied Brunei an opportunity to snatch a point in the group during their final group game against Indonesia in Hanoi, Vietnam.

During the AFC Under-23 Championship in Thailand in January 2020, South Korea secured their first title when they edged Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final with Jeong Tae-wook scoring a winner in extra time.