Hockey: Brunei pull out again on lack of players


ONCE again, a lack of players has squashed Brunei's hopes of competing in another international tournament.

National hockey coach Zulkiflee Zainal yesterday told The Brunei Times that the national team will not be at next month's Southeast Asian (SEA) Cup in Yangoon, Myanmar the second consecutive major tournament the country will not be competing in because of the exact same reason.

Organised by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) during the years when hockey is not part of the SEA Games, the Dec 10-18 competition was shaping up to be the national team's highlight of the year until the Brunei Darussalam Hockey Association (BDHA) was forced to pull the plug last month.

The Sultanate was also supposed to see action in the Razak Cup qualifiers in Sabah in July but had to withdraw because most players could not attend training in preparation for Malaysia's premier hockey tournament.

Announcing the decision in June, Zulkiflee said the team would have to shift their attention to the SEA Cup instead.

Now it looks like it's back to the drawing board for him.

"We had problems forming a team," he said yesterday.

"We can't go because a lot of our players, eight in fact, are from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (ABDB) and they couldn't get released for training.

"The decision not to compete was made by the association (BDHA) last month," added the Malaysian.

Not only is the SEA Cup out of the picture, the Borneo Cup has also been postponed to next year because organisers could not get the pitch ready in time.

The Sultanate was set to send the national Under-23 and national women's team to December's Borneo Cup, which like the SEA Cup, is organised every year hockey is not included in the Borneo Games.

However, the event in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, has now been pushed to next year the second time it has been shifted.

Originally slated for May 27-July 3, the Borneo Cup was postponed by the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) because it clashed with the Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL) which began on March 26 and ended on May 21.

What this means is that Zulkiflee will have to settle for the 37th Pesta Hockey Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)-Penang International from Dec 16-18 in Penang, Malaysia, if he wants his team to see any action for the rest of the year.

Unlike the SEA Cup and Razak Cup, the coach won't have to worry about a lack of players as the event is a 6-a-side competition for men and 7-a-side for women.

He said Brunei is planning to send one team for the men's event and two in the women's.

"The men's team will be made up of the players that have been training for the SEA Cup," explained Zulkiflee.

"The Borneo Cup is an open event but we want to send our Under-23 team to give them some exposure," he said, adding that the Under-23s and women train under junior coach Berandai Dadong.

The Brunei Times

  Stories in Video