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Call for overhaul of football development

Brunei Darussalam, though tiny, is a nation deeply passionate about football. But its football is now at the crossroads, facing a stark reality of underwhelming performances and results across all age groups.

Consider just some of the recent results:

AFC U23 Asian Cup
September 7-12, 2023
Brunei vs Jordan 0-9
Brunei vs Syria 0-11

Senior Friendly Match
September 11,2023
Brunei vs Hong Kong 0-9

Senior Friendly Match
September 6, 2023
Brunei vs Sabah FC 1-3

AFC U17 Asian Cup Qualifier October 9, 2022
Brunei vs Uzbekistan 0-14

These results speak for themselves. For far too long, our teams have struggled to secure victories, and our score lines come with their own disheartening stories. Whether it is the senior squad or our youth teams competing regionally, the results have been quite frankly embarrassing.

This is no longer an issue about wins, draws or losses; it is a reflection of the state of our entire football administration, infrastructure, coaching, talent development and overall strategy.

As a devoted fan of the beautiful game, it is my honest and humble opinion that it is time to confront these issues head-on and work towards a brighter future for our footballing nation.

It is obviously an enormous challenge that requires immediate attention from all stakeholders. Thus, I suggest that we start with a complete overhaul of the management.

We all need to buckle up if we have dreams of repeating Brunei Darussalam’s greatest achievements – winning the Malaysia Cup in 1999 and Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in 2012.

These achievements show that Brunei Darussalam football can be successful in regional and international competitions. But to achieve such success again, we need capable leadership. The hard work must start now.

Hurt Football Fan


Brunei’s national under-23 football teams recently received heavy blows in international outings.

For the senior team, losing 3-1 to Sabah was acceptable. Then, they lost to Hong Kong 10-0. It made me ponder: is Hong Kong a good footballing side? Traditionally, they have not been one of the most feared Asian teams.

So, I was really dumbfounded when I learnt that our team could not put up a good fight against them. But why not?

Then, the youth team lost 11-0 to Syria, which is a warn-torn country. Does the country even have proper football development programmes and infrastructure?

I believe Brunei football needs a revamp. From top to bottom. Complete overhaul. While we could try and identify and address problems one section at a time, it would only be short-term fixes. In the end, we would still face the same losing streak we are on now.

I am aware that investment has been made at the grassroots level, through development programmes and better facilities.

But what next?

Hiring quality coaches and management is crucial in any organisation, and football is no exception.

We have been switching coaches for a while now. One has to wonder how much they are to blame for our heavy defeats. If the change of head coach is meant to enhance performance, where is the notable improvement of our squad? Similarly, it is important to have competent people to oversee the various development programmes. If it’s rotten at the top, it is a matter of time before the whole organisation is infected too.

As for the squad, while I agree that more experience is needed, it is also time to let some of the “older” players go. I don’t doubt there are good players among them. But do they have the right mentality to excel on the international stage? Instead, why not make full use of the Super League to identify young players with potential and hone their skills through proper coaching?

This is where it is vital to put together a good coaching team that is clear on instructions and has a broad tactical acumen while being skilled in dealing with ego and mental fragility in the squad.

Reinventing our football team will not come cheap, of course. Perhaps this is where sponsorship could play a major role in help us to reclaim the former glory. After all, the funds will allow us to properly put together a winning team, from coaches to players.

If a country such as the Philippines, who has not been a major footballing side, can make a huge leap forward, why can’t we?

How long can we go on saying “try harder next time” or “believe in the process” before we collectively realise we have been supporting a lost cause?

We, as football fans, want to support our teams; of course we do. But something needs to be done to end our losing streak.

Awang Budiman


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