Jorge Victor has admitted that Timor-Leste had to overcome a tricky second-leg encounter of their AFF Suzuki Cup qualification match against Brunei Darussalam after a 1-0 defeat in Bandar Seri Begawan on Saturday saw them advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Timor-Leste went into the game at Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium with a two-goal advantage after winning the first leg 3-1 in Malaysia last week, but had to withstand a wave of Brunei pressure as the Sultanate aimed to get themselves back into contention.

With 15 minutes to play winger Najib Tarif handed Brunei the lead to ensure a nervy finish as the home side sought a second that would have seen them progress on away goals. But the goal was not forthcoming as Timor-Leste held out to book their second appearance in the competition.

“Brunei were very strong in the second leg and that made it really tough for us to contain them,” said Victor, who put in a man-of-the-match performance, after the game.

“Although we lost, I’m glad we went through.”

The win marked the first time Timor-Leste had come through the qualifying round to secure a place in the tournament, having failed to get beyond the stage on six previous occasions.

The Timorese were, however, part of the 2004 edition but did not have to navigate a qualifying round, before they lost all four of their games to exit at the first hurdle.

“They had some new players and were strong,” added Timor-Leste coach Norio Tsukitate.

“We had a good experience today. We knew it would be tough so I told the boys to play their normal game.”

One of the players the Japanese coach was referring to was Brunei captain Faiq Bolkiah, the Leicester City starlet who was absent from the first leg.

His presence in the starting line-up handed the Bruneians a huge boost ahead of the game and most of the hosts’ best play went through the forward.

Faiq had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock in the 74th minute but was denied by a superb close-range save from Aderito, before the only goal of the game came from the ensuing corner.

“We had a different game plan today because we knew we needed the goals, so we played a lot higher than normal,” said Faiq.

“I think for us to get the win here was a good result, but obviously it was not enough.”

Brunei had chances to add a second with Azwan Ali Rahman missing the best of them as the hosts were denied their first appearance in the competition since the inaugural edition in 1996.

“We dominated throughout, we attacked and scored but could not advance,” added Brunei coach Kwon Oh-son.

“Our players did well, but there was a clear lack of finishing. We had chances to score but the finishing cost us the game.”