Brunei's Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy team players celebrate after scoring a goal during the last edition of the competition in 2012. Team Manager Hj Feisal Hj Eusoff said that the team are far from prepared for this year's competition to be held from August 9-23. BT file
Team Manager Hj Feisal Hj Eusoff said the national team are not ready for next month's 5th Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy for ASEAN Youth Football Championship.
With the tournament less than a month away, Hj Feisal said they are far from prepared for the August 9-23 regional Under-21 tournament. "The players' fitness is still not at the level that it should be and we have yet to decide our first eleven, let alone choosing the final 18 squad," said Hj Feisal when met during their training session at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
"Some key players are injured, there is no need to mention names here... The point is that we are far from ready for this tournament," he said. Brunei chose to be in Group B alongside Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor Leste and two-time champions Thailand are in Group A.
According to a previous report, the national team have been training continuously since January. Asked why such problems were present despite their early preparations, the manager replied: "We did not have enough exposure games especially playing against teams from outside Brunei."
"We managed to get a number of friendly games against the local clubs, but it is still not enough to help push our players to improve their fitness and this is why we need to play more exposure games outside," he said.
"DPMM FC are the best club in the country, I would like to thank them for giving us the chances to play them in friendlies, but because of their busy schedule in the Singapore League and other tournaments, we only managed to play few games.
"I would also like to thank DPMM FC for releasing their players for the HBT, despite their busy schedule, but the only problem is that, the DPMM FC players have never got the chance to train with us and they might only be able to train early next month," said Hj Feisal.
"Despite this, we have been working very hard, the players and the coaches have been training continuously and we have given extra effort throughout and thus we have seen a slight improvement.
"I would like to thank the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) President, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, for his never-ending support and advice... to not give up and fight until the end and also to Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah and Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar for their support all these time.
"I heard people are talking that we are targeting to be in the semi-final and some say we are looking to retain the cup again but that is not coming from me," he said.
"But again, of course we would want that, but right now we are still the underdogs.
"If we can maintain these current players for the 2016 HBT, I can guarantee and promise the nation that we can easily win not only the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy but other tournaments as well, InsyaAllah," he added.