National coach Tajul Ariffin Sumpong (R) sharing a light moment with a player during a training session in 2010. Tajul said he was pleased with the performance of his charges despite losing 4-2 on penalties to Hong Kong yesterday. BT file
The national Under-18 team finished eighth at the 41st Asian Schools Football Championship after losing 4-2 on penalties to Hong Kong in the seventh-place playoff yesterday.
The Sultanate were on their way to victory before Hong Kong struck five minutes from time to make it 2-2 to send the match into penalties at the Mae Fah Luang University in Thailand.
Hong Kong were perfect from the spot as opposed to Brunei, who missed one and had another saved during the shootout.
National coach Tajul Ariffin Sumpong was pleased with the performance of his charges despite losing the encounter.
"The game was 50-50 as it was evenly matched, but we were expecting to win late on," said Tajul in a phone interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
"The team's performance was good except that it was difficult for us because the weather was hot as we played at 1.30pm.
"We were also missing some key players for the matchup," he added.
The trio of Ak Indera Putera Pg Yunos, Md Faris Wassini and Md Syahmi Rashid all missed the encounter having picked up three yellow cards while Md Nizamuddin Hj Ismail was unavailable after being shown a red card in the last match.
Brunei had a good start to the match after Md Akif Hj Roslan netted in the 11th minute via a free-kick.
It was 1-1 seven minutes later after Hong Kong found the back of the net also from a dead ball situation.
It was only in the 59th minute that the Sultanate got back in front after Ak Md Shobri Pg Ibrahim headed home a free-kick from the right for his second goal in the competition.
The national coach felt that the overall outing was a good experience for his players.
"It was good because most of our players are under 17 years old. We only have three players who are 18 years old on the squad," said Tajul.
"We even have a 14-year-old (Syafiq Jefry) who did really well. He was our first choice midfielder throughout the tournament.
"The players have picked up a lot from this experience, especially on how to avoid picking up yellow cards.
"They have learned how to play together and foster better teamwork," he concluded.
Brunei had started out their campaign with a 2-0 loss to China on Friday.
They then got into the win column after edging Macau 2-1 on Saturday with the duo of Ak Md Shobri and Md Syahmi getting on the scoresheet.
They fell to a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of South Korea the next day before dropping 1-0 to Vietnam on Monday.
The outing was an improvement of the previous edition last year where Brunei lost all four of their games.
Meanwhile, South Korea are through to the final after defeating Thailand 2-0 in the semi-finals yesterday.
They will play the winner of the match between China and Indonesia today.
The final will be contested tomorrow.