SINGAPORE: Football is known to unite people, regardless of background.
But you would never expect to see royalty on the field, vying for the ball.
That is exactly what happened at the Bishan Stadium on Monday when Bruneian royalty, Faiq Jefri Bolkiah, tried to help his team-mates break their duck in the competition.
The nephew of the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, went all out but his team still lost 2-0 to Malaysia in their final Group B match.
The 17-year-old, who was Brunei’s bright spark in the match, cut a frustrated figure up front as he kept calling for the ball.
“I was not unhappy with my team-mates; it’s my way of taking control of the match. I just wanted the ball to be played to me,” said Faiq, who is the youngest skipper in the competition.
“I might be related to the Sultan of Brunei but on the field all players are equal. There is mutual respect within the team and with the opponents. Football is about 11 players and anything beyond the pitch doesn’t matter.
“The players did well, they worked very hard to win the match. It was the coach’s tactical decision to defend deep and attack with long balls but we couldn’t get the result we wanted,” he said.
Faiq, who is making his debut in the SEA Games, converted a spotkick in their match against Timor Leste but it was not enough as they were edged 2-1 last week.
But the English Premier League (EPL) champions Chelsea Under-17 academy trainee said that he’s happy with his debut despite Brunei’s failure to collect a single point after five matches.
The striker said that he will now focus on his goal of playing in the EPL.
“We are going back early but I think we have shown our fighting spirit. The other countries are ahead of us now but we will work hard to close the gap ... we will come back stronger next time,” said Faiq.
The Star Online