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Monday, April 30, 2001

M-League - Jones downplays favourites tag

It has been a while but for the first time in his tenure here as Brunei coach, Mick Jones' Wasps may have to be considered as favourites to win tonight's match against NS Chempaka at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

It is a tag that Jones will be keen to avoid at all costs but after a crucial 1-0 win at Sabah, even he must secretly understand that all eyes will now be on Brunei.

Three wins on the spin has left Brunei in a fantastic position to mount a serious promotion challenge this year but it is still early days yet and Jones will be taking nothing for granted.

It is still a very young squad that he has put together and while they have had to deal with a lot of criticism it's going to be interesting to see how they deal with adulation.

Even Jones was the first to admit earlier in the week that the most difficult part of dealing with youngsters was the balancing act that comes with their nurturing.

Said Jones, "The most difficult thing with dealing with youngsters is to first get them to feel confident about themselves. Once that happens the next step is keeping their feet on the ground when they've had a bit of success."

That comment alone hints that perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Jones and his team may be dealing with their own egos but Jones is convinced that there is no problem there.

"We understand that we are playing in Premier Two and we will continue to battle hard to get back into what we feel is our rightful place in Premier League," added Jones.

To have Riwandi Wahit as the most experienced striker speaks volumes of the youth in the squad and along the way, Jones expects that there will be some hiccups but expects the more experienced players to help them through each road-bump.

Players like Irwan Mohammad, Azmanuddin Gillen, Ak Sallehuddin Damit and even Fadlin Galawat can all be considered as veterans and it is their leadership both on and off the field that is going to play a big part in how much success Brunei achieve this year.

Throughout last year, even through the lean spells, Jones always spoke of how much the experience would help the players if they could learn from it.

And it's beginning to look as though what the Englishman said is coming true as Fadlin has definitely shown a lot more maturity with his ever-improving game while Irwan and Azmanuddin have taken on the mantle of bossing Brunei's midfield.

What might perhaps please Jones the most is that while his team have been scoring at by committee at one end, they have also been keeping out their opposition at the other end. They haven't conceded a goal in two matches and after last year's leaky performance, the improvement has been phenomenal especially considering the barrage they came under from Sabah in the last 10 minutes.

Jones himself admits that they were lucky to leave with a win at Sabah but at the same time he would have been happy with resolute and gritty defending that was missing so much last season.

It's one match at a time for Brunei and looking any further ahead would be foolish at this early stage but if the players can continue to pull off win after win then winning the Premier Two outright would be within their grasp.

(By Benny Ang)

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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Sunday, September 30, 2001

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2001

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    Monday, September 24, 2001

  • Cricket - Sarawak dethrone Brunei
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    Sunday, September 23, 2001

  • Cricket - Sarawak-Brunei final
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