Timor-Leste take a two-goal lead to Brunei Darussalam for the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying round after a 3-1 win in the first leg in Malaysia last Saturday left them well placed to advance for the first time since 2004.

With the first leg held at Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium due to lighting issues in Dili, Timor-Leste enjoyed the better of the first half, and Henrique Cruz’s brace either side of the half hour gave the nominal hosts a 2-0 advantage at the interval.

Brunei fought back after the restart and substitute Azwan Ali Rahman scored what could prove a crucial away goal as the hour approached before Kwon Oh-son’s team sought to restore parity and return home with a draw.

But Norio Tsukitate’s side finished the game with their two-goal cushion intact once more after Silveiro Garcia rolled into an empty net in injury time to mean the Timorese go into the return meeting as favourites to secure their place in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup group stage.

However, there remains all to play for in Saturday’s second leg at Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium in Bandar Seri Begawan as both sides look to progress to what would be only their second finals appearance in the competition.

Kwon’s team are targeting a first appearance in the tournament since the inaugural edition in 1996 in Singapore, when they were eliminated after defeats to the hosts, Thailand and Malaysia.

That side exited with heads held high, though, as a narrow 1-0 victory over the Philippines meant they finished above the Azkals in the standings with three points to their name.

Key to their chances of overhauling the two-goal deficit could be 20-year-old captain Faiq Bolkiah, the pacey forward on English Premier League side’s Leicester City’s books.

The core of the team, meanwhile, play for Bruneian club side DPMM FC and have gained valuable experience playing in the Singapore Premier League over the past six years.

Like Brunei, Timor-Leste have appeared in just one Suzuki Cup, back in 2004, when they lost all four of their group stage games to depart without a point.

Henrique’s (pictured below) two goals in the first leg will make him a marked man in Bandar Seri Begawan, while fellow forward Rufino Gama – who scored two goals at the recent Asian Games – will also pose a threat.

With the hosts needing to push for goals, the 20-year-olds will look to exploit any space left behind the home side’s defence and cancel out Brunei’s away goal.

The winner of the clash will join holders Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore in Group B of the competition proper.