The National Football Scene

I got an email from the webmaster of Brunei's Manchester United Football Club wishing to exchange links. I checked out their website and found that the club is active and has just recently recruited its 100th member. That does indicate something. At least MU is a winning team and has its fair share of supporters in Brunei. I was wondering whether to reciprocate the link as MU is not exactly my favourite team - I supported two English teams - both of which have not been doing well ever since I supported them - Ipswich Town and Newcastle United. Ipswich attracted me as a small team struggling against the giants and doing well in the 1980s and Newcastle was a giant name who despite having Kevin Keegan in those days never won anything much.

Despite our fondness for English and European soccer and can even discuss the whos, the whys and the whats of them - most of us know next to nothing about our national soccer scene. I remembered someone wrote an entry about Brunei football a couple of months back - was it Jack? - where I share his sentiments about not knowing much about Brunei football. Is it because we don't know much because no one told us anything or is it because they are not winning?

In the 1980s when we first took part in the Malaysia Cup, I was still a student in Singapore then and there was one match that I remembered - Brunei played Singapore at the Padang in Bandar. There was no satellite tv and we listened very closely on the shortwave radio to the commentary of the game. We didn't have our stadium yet in those days and matches were played at the Padang and it wasn't the best of any football fields. Singapore was riding high up in the Malaysia Cup league and we shocked them despite having Fandi Ahmad by beating them 2-1. That was about the most memorable thing that happened then. I still remembered some of the players and they were household names then such as Pg Tajuddin - the giant in the defence team and Ak Zamani - our national striker. [*Fandi Ahmad was offered to play at Ajax Amsterdam but he rejected it and joined FC Groningen where he scored goals against such giants as Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan.]

When the National Stadium was officially opened sometime in 1982 or 1983, the state team entertained Sheffield United - I think Sheffield sent out their reserves against us and we lost a game in the morning and drew another in the evening. What I remembered the most was the current PS at MIPR, Dato H* who played left winger scoring a goal. He was an active and gifted football player in those days.

In 1999, Brunei had an interesting run in the Malaysia Cup surprising everyone by reaching the final and winning the final against - I can't quite remember - was it Sabah or Sarawak? What I remembered was the sellout crowds during that run in at the stadium, close to 30,000 everytime Brunei played and a couple of thousands actually made it to Stadium Merdeka for the final. All it shows that if the team does well, there will be supporters.

Since last year, Brunei has been respresented by DPMM FC in the Malaysia Cup. So far they have done well, maybe not as well as we had hoped but they have been doing much better than our state team over the last few years anyway. I really do hope that they can keep up their consistent performances and go all the way.

I tried looking up BAFA's website if I can find anything new. But unfortunately their website has gone the same way as our national team. So I got my information from other sources such as FIFA, AFC and Wiki. I found out that Brunei FA was formed more than 51 years ago - 15 March 1956 and at that time was known as the Brunei State Football Amateur Association (that's where the word BAFA came from). It has been a member of FIFA since 1969 and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) since 1970. In 1993, the word "Amateur" was dropped, and since then, the FA has been known as the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam. Brunei's experience of international football has been more or less restricted to regional Asian competitions, such as the South East Asian Games and the Tiger Cup. Brunei has played in the world Cup qualifying competition a couple of times as well as the Asian Cup.

According to Wiki, our first international was an 8-0 defeat by Malaysia in Bangkok in 1972, our biggest win 4-1 against Philippines in Brunei in 1985 and our biggest defeat was 12-0 against UAE in Brunei in 2001. Our FIFA ranking is 175 and the highest ranking we ever got was 145 in August 1993 and the lowest was 199 in December 2004. But another rival football ranking organisation ELO ranked Brunei as 212 out of 228 even way much lower than that of our lowest in FIFA. The 16 countries below us (some of them I won't even consider as countries) include Turks and Caicos, Northern Marianna Islands, US Virgin Islands, Monaco, Federated States of Mirconesia, East Timor, Montserrat, Anguilla, Vatican, Niue, Bhutan, Tibet, Kiribati, Eastern Samoa, Guam and Palau.

Jack was right -- someone PLEASE do something about our national fooball!


Anonymous said…
At last something about football! First and foremost yes everyone should help Brunei football, since 2002, just after the world cup the Brunei League was born and now we can see the progress where DPMM FC can just pluck away the best players from the other teams easily nationwide. Although the league is doing ok, we must improve it further as the transfer system is killing the smaller teams. The smaller teams have been sacrificing a lot of $$$ just to finish a season. They are not compensated for their best players move to the bigger teams, Who should give them the financial assistance? Then, from this small teams comes the National team (BAFA or Brunei DPMM?) or should I add QAF FC here? QAF have represented the country twice. The first during the April 2006 AFC Challenge Cup for Asian emerging countries where they improved the way people think abt Brunei when they won the country 1st international match in a decade 2-1 vs Nepal. Brunei drew against goalless versus Bhutan but unluckily missed out on the next round on goal difference. The next major international tournament was the AFF Qualifiers in November last year, BAFA couldn’t form a team itself and the thing they could do was send the B-League champions again. My friend who happens to be in the team told how financially difficult they were in there, but for the country they won the 1st match against new Timor, drew Cambodia, lost the final 2 games against eventual qualifiers Laos and Philippines. So whats wrong? BAFA? The Players? The Management? The Country lack of support? The Brunei Glory Hunters? Or maybe Brunei is just not meant for football? Hehe….but BAFA have been run by the same people since god knows when. Time for a new breath. What have BAFA done this past years? Malaysia League: DPMM FC, International Tournament: QAF FC, Local League: Brunei League. Next Major is the Hassanal Bolkah Trophy in March, and the SEA Games…will Brunei not send a team again? Time will tell… and for the glory hunters out there…go support the latest winning team in the premier league and come to the stadium when DPMM is only winning. Come now and you’ll see the true fans.
Unknown said…
Good Article, thanks for your article. :)

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