BY Fadhil Yunus
Brunei Darussalam have been reserved a slot to make an appearance in the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup next season, according to The ASEAN Football recently.
The winner of the 2020 Brunei Super League, the country’s top tier of football, will gain entry via the play-off stage alongside domestic league champions from Laos and Timor Leste as well as winners of cup tournaments from Myanmar, Indonesia and Cambodia.
Brunei’s representative must meet club licensing requirements as part of the criteria required by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to be eligible for participation.
The play-off round of the competition will be held tentatively on January 19 or 20, 2021 for the first leg and on January 26 or 27 for the second leg in accordance to the competition calendar prepared by AFC.
The winners in the play-off round will book their place in the group stage, where there will be a separate route to the final depending on the zones of the participating teams.
Indera SC and Yangon United players vie for the ball during an AFC Cup tie earlier this year. PHOTO: AFC
Indera SC made their debut as Brunei’s representative as they were the highest-placed club in the country’s top flight that had successfully obtained an AFC Club Licence.
The Super League club’s participation meant that it was the first time that Brunei have been represented in the AFC Cup since the inception of the competition in 2004.
Indera, who finished fourth in the league last season, were eliminated from the competition after losing out to General Aung San winners Yangon United in the playoffs earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Brunei have been ranked on par with Timor Leste in the association ranking table among member associations based in the ASEAN zone.
The ranking table takes into account performances in the AFC Cup and the AFC Champions League during the period between 2016 and 2019.
Two teams each from Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore will be allocated slots directly to the group stages – scheduled to commence in February 2021 – while Myanmar, Indonesia and Cambodia will be allocated one slot each in the group stage and the playoff stage. Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste, the third lowest ranked associations were given a slot each.
The play-off round will be seen as a route for the selected Brunei club, which is yet to be determined, to qualify for the tournament proper for the first time.
Timor Leste, who joined Brunei as debutants in the AFC Cup this year, are the other association from the ASEAN zone that have yet to make it pass the group stage.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin