| Fadhil Yunus |
BRUNEI Darussalam’s goalkeeper Haimie anak Nyaring single-handedly prevented Australia from running away with a huge score-line during his side’s 2-0 loss in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 qualifiers at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar yesterday.
The Brunei under-23 number one was outstanding in the group opener as he followed save after save to prevent from further embarrassment against a heavily-fancied side favoured to clinch top spot without much of an obstacle.
The youthful Soccerroos asserted their dominance with at least 10 scoring opportunities with striker Daniel Arzani leading the charge but Haimie stood tall with the majority of the attacking onslaught.
Australia were not to be denied though after George Blackwood converted from the penalty spot with Riley McGree, whose move to Belgian first division side Club Brugge was confirmed, adding a second five minutes from time.
Brunei will play designated hosts Myanmar tomorrow while Australia play Singapore in the other match.
“I am satisfied with our performance in the first half. Hopefully, we will learn from this match,” under-23 national head coach Kwon Oh-son was quoted as saying by the AFC website.
“Australia is a very strong opponent compared to other Asean member countries. Hopefully we continue with our first half performance towards the SEA Games.”
“But first it is important that we focus on all games in the AFC tournament,” he continued.
The same team is likely to represent the country in next month’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The head coach vowed that the team will give their all and likened each tie as a cup final.
“We will play each match like a final. Even though Myanmar is the host country, we don’t have to worry about the next game. We will enter it without big pressure,” the South Korean concluded.
Meanwhile, Australia under-23 national head coach Josep Gombau heaped praise on young Brunei goalkeeper Haimie following his commendable performance behind the sticks.
“Brunei were good opponents and we were fortunate in the first half- the keeper saved good shots and our strikers missed a few,” Gombau said.