National team seeks to make amends for first-leg loss as ISTAF SuperSeries THAILAND 2013/14 begins
BANGKOK (25 SEPTEMBER 2013): ISTAF SuperSeries THAILAND 2013/14 kicks off here this Thursday, and the national team has been going all out to put their shocking loss to Korea in the first SuperSeries leg behind them.
An error-prone Malaysia went down to their first-ever loss to Korea in straight sets in the final of ISTAF SuperSeries INDIA 2013/14 in New Delhi. At the recent King’s Cup in Udon Thani, the team again lost to the Koreans in their Group A regu match and then in the doubles’ event.
Later in the competition, however, they turned the tables in empathic fashion, defeating the Koreans twice in a day to win the regu competition 3-0 and then 2-1 in a group match during the team event.
Despite the mixed results, team manager Jamaluddin Hassan is upbeat about his boys’ chances in Bangkok.
“We now have a psychological advantage over Korea if we do meet,” he said at the launch of ISTAF SuperSeries THAILAND 2013/14. “Defeating what I believe to be the best team in the world today twice in a day will also teach them not to underrate us.”
And if things do according to the formbooks, Malaysia will meet the top seeds in the semi-finals. Malaysia have been drawn together with Germany and Japan in Group B while Korea have India and China in group A for company. Third seeds Indonesia are in Group C with the United States and Singapore while Thailand, seeded fourth as hosts, will take on Iran and Brunei in Group D.
In Bangkok, Jamaluddin and coach Iskandar Arshad will stick to their tried and tested method of rotating their players, which gives first-time internationals a chance to compete at the SuperSeries stage. Three players from the team that played in New Delhi – vice-captain Farhan Adam, Izurin Refin and Mohd Kamal Alfiza Shafie, have been replaced with reserve tekong Sahidan Md. Ali, feeder Mohd. Syazreen Qamar Salehan and killer Mohd Hanafiah Dolah.
Only Mohd. Aizat Nor Azmi and captain Norshahruddin Mad Ghani will once again see action at the second leg, which kicks off September 26 and features 20 of the best men’s and women’s teams in four days of competition at Fashion Island, one of Bangkok’s largest shopping malls.
“We’re ready to show our true colours,” said Mohd Aizat. “Personally, I was nervous in New Delhi as it was my first appearance in the SuperSeries and the team on a whole made too many unforced errors, but we are determined to make amends this time around.”
The women’s team will look to make up for their poor showing in the first SuperSeries leg. The squad only racked up one win when they defeated Japan in their Group B match before falling 3-0 to Indonesia in the semis and 3-0 to Vietnam.
In an effort to improve, coach Mohd Fikri Mohd Noor has recalled former national player Noor Fairuz Azizan to replace injured tekong Siti Norzubaidah Che Ab. Wahab and second choice Asumalin Rattana Som Chok, who performed poorly in New Delhi.
Malaysia, seeded fourth, is drawn in Group B with second seeds Indonesia, China and Korea. Defending champions and top seeds Thailand have been drawn in Group A alongside third seeds Vietnam, Japan and India.
In both men’s and women’s competition, only the top two teams from each group advance to the play-off stage based on points accumulated. Unlike ISTAF SuperSeries INDIA, where each match was decided over five sets, group, play-off and quarter-final matches here will be decided in three sets over 15 points. The semi-finals, 3rd/4th placing and final matches will all be played over five sets.
ISTAF SuperSeries THAILAND 2013/14
Group A: Korea (1), India, China
Group B: Malaysia (2), Germany, Japan
Group C: Indonesia (3), USA, Singapore
Group D: Thailand (4), Iran, Brunei
Group A: Thailand (1), Vietnam (3), Japan, India
Group B: Indonesia (2), Malaysia (4), China, Korea
Established in 1988, the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) is the international governing body for the sport of sepaktakraw and is recognised by the Olympic Movement. ISTAF is officially based in Thailand and has its Secretariat in Singapore. Under ISTAF, sepaktakraw has enjoyed medal-sport status at the South-East Asian Games since 1965 and uninterrupted medal status at the Asian Games since 1990. It was also introduced as a demonstration sport at the 2009 World Games in Chinese Taipei.
ABOUT ISTAF SUPERSERIES
ISTAF SuperSeries is the world’s first and only elite international competition that brings together the best sepaktakraw teams and players from around the world to showcase the sport to a global audience. Alongside the ISTAF World Cup, the ISTAF SuperSeries is the only sepaktakraw tournament recognised by ISTAF and therefore plays a key role in deciding the official ISTAF World Rankings.
The ISTAF SuperSeries is played using a grand prix format, where national teams compete in a series of tournaments during a season. The first season was held from September 2011 to July 2012 and comprised four ISTAF SuperSeries tournaments.
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