Qualifying Preview: Brunei vs Timor Leste

Brunei and Timor Leste are hoping for a good start in the AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifying Tournament which begins in Cambodia on Saturday.

Brunei go into qualifying aiming to make it into the tournament proper for the first time since 1996, their only appearance in the group stage to date.

The Wasps are the lowest ranked side (197th) of the four teams competing in Cambodia, but have been encouraged by their showings in two recent friendly games against the Malaysia U-22 squad.

“It has been a long time since we played a competitive friendly game. In the first half, we showed good spirit to improve our game play,” said assistant coach Ali Hj Mustafa after the first game.

“We also found some weaknesses to fix for the upcoming competition.

“We will have to improve (certain aspects) after conceding two goals from set plays.”

Opponents Timor Leste are coming off the back of two narrow 2-1 defeats to Chinese Taipei that put them out of qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Nevertheless, Timor will be looking to qualify for the group stage of the Suzuki Cup for the first time after narrowly missing out in both 2012 and 2014.

Gradual improvement since making their footballing debut in 2004 saw Timor advance to the second round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying for the first time recently and coach Fernando Alcantara will be looking to build on their recent encouraging form.

Man to watch: Faiq Jefri Bolkiah (Brunei)
Brunei hope that the highly rated winger Faiq Jefri Bolkiah, who currently plays in the youth set up of Premier League champions Leicester City, will provide the firepower they need to qualify.

Faiq, the nephew of the Sultan of Brunei, said, “I’ll be playing in midfield behind the striker and I’ll try to be the playmaker for my country instead of my usual position of playing up front.”

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