Brunei - June 19, 2020 09:00Going further with futsalUpdate from BruneiCourtesy: Borneo Bulletin

June 19, 2020

by Fadhil Yunus

Futsal has been growing fast as a popular sport for all levels of players in the country over the last decade.

In the last few years, national leagues were formed to enhance the competitiveness and standard of futsal in the country while clubs have set up academies in search of young talents.

The early years saw the inaugural futsal competition held at the Jerudong Park Amphitheatre in 2000. The breakthrough success of the tournament, prompted organisers to host a second edition a year later following a surge in popularity with a rise in participants.

In the following years, there were notable competitions such as the Futsal Com tournament in 2002 and the Super Cup ‘5’ in 2003.

Early successes in the domestic level also translated into good form at the international level.

The national team enjoyed progress after they secured fourth place in the 2001 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Futsal Championship in Selangor, Malaysia.

Following their fourth-place finish, Brunei made their maiden appearance in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Futsal Championship in 2002.

It remained their biggest competition at a continental level to date following the formation of the national team.

In 2004, the Wasps repeated their exploits from the previous edition of the AFF Championship to finish fourth in Bangkok, Thailand.

During the tournament, Brunei pulled a few surprises, most notably a draw with eventual runners-up Malaysia and managing a commendable 3-1 victory over Indonesia.

After a disappointing campaign in the 2007 edition, Brunei bounced back in style to finish in fourth place a year later.

With Vietnam slowly turning into a force at the continental level, Brunei proved they could challenge them during the late 2000s after losing 5-4 in the group stages of the AFF Futsal Championship.

Brunei’s last attempt to qualify for the 2018 AFC Futsal Championship was through the 2017 AFF Futsal Championship, with the tournament serving as a qualifying process. The senior team’s last appearance in an international competition was the 2018 AFF Futsal Championship in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Meanwhile, the first under-20 national team was established three years ago with 16 players called up for the inaugural 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-20 Futsal Championship in Bangkok.

Before the final squad was announced, over 200 players initially vied for a berth in the team.

As the number of players was gradually reduced, 25 players started intensive training and underwent a 21-day strength and power training programme before working on the fundamentals and tactics.

With the team playing under the name NFT 20 in the Brunei Futsal League, they inflicted what was a first defeat on titleholders Kota Junior for more than two years.

The local futsal scene was revived in 2015 following the establishment of the Brunei Futsal League. At the club level, Kota Junior FC cemented their position as one of the top teams in the country after winning the national league twice.

After capturing their maiden title, Kota Junior emerged unbeaten in the entire season a year later without dropping any points.

The club also added the Sumbangsih Cup title to their trophy cabinet following a victory over Premier Cup winners Bio FT at the start of the 2016 season.

The last known instalment of a national futsal league was in 2017 when two overseas teams, namely Miri FA and Kuantan Rangers, were invited to participate.

In the final league game of the season, local club Arbisyam FC pulled off an unlikely draw against eventual champions Kuantan Rangers. Arbisyam, who were the best local team in the country, also finished as the runners-up and pushed Miri to third place.

Their President Haji Ishak bin Haji Mohamad said at that time, “The Arbisyam players have been instilled with fighting spirit with the team representing the country.”

Brunei-based club Shah United debuted in the 2017 AFF Futsal Club Championship in Bangkok, becoming the first club to represent the country at a major international futsal competition.

A year later, Arbisyam represented the country, having qualified as the best-placed local team in the national league. The Brunei outfit also made history after they recorded a 7-6 victory over Cambodia’s UYFC Komchaymear in the group stage.

Earlier this year, local club Shah United tested their capabilities against foreign teams when they joined the Powernet International Futsal Tournament at the Stadium Indera Mulia in Ipoh, Perak.

In promising signs that Brunei’s futsal talents was gaining recognition in the regional circuit, former under-20 international Mohammad Radhi bin Raduan passed a trial with Sarawak United, leading to his signature.

Mohammad Radhi also made history after becoming the first Bruneian to play for an overseas futsal club, and is one of only three imports selected to play in the Malaysia top flight.

He made one appearance for his new employers this term in the Malaysia Premier Futsal League (MPFL) before the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted by Luca Ranocchiari -->
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