Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
NATIONAL under-18 football coach Takao Fujiwara is expecting a tough campaign for his charges at next week’s 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship qualifiers in South Korea.
The team is made up of Tabuan Muda A players, who are currently competing in the DST Super League.
Brunei are pooled alongside hosts South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Timor Leste in group F.
“This is an AFC tournament, so the level is a bit higher, we will be facing strong teams like South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, so it is going to be a big challenge for us,” Fujiwara told BruSports News yesterday.
“We are in a tough group. But no matter if we lose or draw, the most important thing is that we fight… and we will fight for 90 minutes,” said the Japanese, adding that the tournament will be a very good exposure for the youth team.
Brunei will open their campaign against Indonesia on Tuesday before taking on South Korea on Thursday.
They will play Malaysia on Saturday before ending their group stage campaign against Timor Leste on November 8.
The national side is skippered by Wafi Aminuddin and all the matches are slated to be held at the Paju Public Stadium.
“I am very proud to be able to represent Brunei in this tournament and as captain, I will try my best to lead this team to fight until the end and to achieve positive results,” said the captain, who is one of the youngest in the team at 16 years old.
Present to send the team off at the Brunei International Airport in Berakas was the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Acting General Secretary Roslin Suhailee.
Also present were NFABD Technical Director Yvon Avry, other officials and staff.
A total of 45 countries divided into 10 groups are competing in the qualifiers held across Asia.
The group winners and five best second-placed teams will advance to next year’s edition of the biennial tournament along with hosts Indonesia.
The semi-finalists at next year’s AFC Under-19 Championship will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup as Asia’s representatives.
Japan are the reigning AFC Under-19 Championship titleholders, beating Saudi Arabia 5-3 on penalties in Bahrain last year.