Group stage 1996
Tebuan (The Wasps)
Mike Wong (Singapore)
The Sultanate took part in the inaugural tournament in Singapore in 1996, suffering defeats to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia but picking up a narrow 1-0 win against the Philippines. However, it remains their only appearance to date in the group stage as they sat out four tournaments and failed to get through the qualifying rounds on five occasions.
They gave a good account of themselves in the 2010 qualifiers in Myanmar when they won two games including an important 2-1 victory over Timor Leste which sent Laos through to the group stage at the expense of the Timorese.
However their qualifying campaign in Laos two years ago under Scottish coach Steve Kean was disappointing. Although they competed well in their four games against Timor Leste, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, they lost all of them and finished in last place.
Brunei have seen little international action since those qualifiers although they produced a notable result in March 2015 when an Adi Said goal gave them a 1-0 away win over Chinese Taipei in the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2018 and AFC Asian Cup 2019. However, a 2-0 defeat in the return match in Bandar Seri Begawan a few days later ended their qualifying campaign.
As a result, the senior side have been limited to a handful of friendlies over the past year while the Under-23s failed to sparkle in the 2015 South-East Asian Games in Singapore, losing all five of their games.
Mike Wong’s side will enter the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers as the lowest-ranked team in the region and given their recent form, it is hard to imagine they can advance to the main competition for the first time in 20 years. However, their win in Chinese Taipei shows that they have the potential to be competitive and can produce surprise results on their day.