NFABD U-15 (orange) and
Philippines Global FC U-15
players (white) compete for
the ball during their
FAM-Frenz Under-15 ASEAN
Champions Trophy match last
night at the Hassanal
Bolkiah National Stadium
in Berakas. Picture: BT/
Md Asdeny Yakub
The National Under-15 team were perhaps lucky to escape from last night's Football Association of Malaysia (FAM)-Frenz Under-15 ASEAN Champions Trophy match against Philippines Global FC Under-15 with a 3-0 loss.
The team never recovered after going down 2-0 after half an hour, and keeping up their poor play, let in another goal on the hour mark to maintain their four-game winless streak and ensure a trip to the bottom of the six-team Group B pile.
The Filipinos now have their first points of the tournament and have moved to fifth.
Out-thought and out-passed, the hosts seldom looked like getting into the game and were victim to constant attacks down the flanks in the first half, with an unmarked Major Dean Ebarie who was a menace on the left flank getting on the scoresheet in the 28th minute after heading in a cross from the impressive Jeremiah Borlongan.
Borlongan made it 2-0 three minutes later after a smart one-two with Mark Anthony Winhoffer, and the already grim signs grew even worse for the hosts when a deflected shot from Sebastian Rafael Benedict Patangan added to the Filipino's cushion in the 63rd minute.
Brunei could not be blamed for a lack of hunger, drive or motivation though, with two particular moments exemplifying their never-say-die attitude in front of a small crowd at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
Goalkeeper Muhd Ishyra Asmin Mohd Jabidi came out of his line superbly to deny an onrushing Jovan Marfiga late in the first half, and though he was caught out when the slick Borlongan dribbled past him and had the goal at his mercy, a late challenge from Muhd Rahimin Abdul Ghani saved the day and a potentially even more embarrassing scoreline.
"We had defensive problems in the first half with crosses coming in from left and right," admitted the team's assistant coach Hj Mohd Rosanan Abdullah Samak.
"We changed that around in the second half and the players really learnt a lot from today's game.
"We've only been playing (together) for three weeks and many of the players have no clubs, so I'm proud of them," added the former national player.
Proud he may be, but the fact is there were more negatives than positives to be taken away from the match.
The team, who failed to find the net for the first time in four games, looked unorganised in defence and could have done better communicating with each other especially with the visitors having superior ball control and tactical shape.
The home side were woefully inept in front of goal, and their long-ball tactics did little to advance their cause with opposing goalkeeper Michael Asong hardly having to break a sweat in the second half.
The positives for Brunei, apart from their hunger, drive and motivation, were probably their willingness to go at Philippines Global FC in the second half apparent when the game started with Naziruddin Hj Ismail joining Muhamad Syahmi Rasyid in attack.
Muhamad Syahmi looked the most liveliest player in front of goal for Brunei, and Naziruddin had an impact with some dazzling dribbles.
Also impressive was goalkeeper Muhd Ishyra Asmin, who controlled his area relatively well, dealt with aerial threats, and was at no fault for each of the goals.
It's perhaps not too much of an exaggeration to say the shotstopper, like the rest of his teammates, was relieved to see a 78th minute strike from Borlongan rattle off the crossbar.
Perhaps they, like the rest of the quickly dwindling home "fans", all knew it was their lucky night.