National team banking on crowd support to win ISTAF SuperSeries Malaysia 2013/14
KOTA KINABALU (30 OCTOBER 2013): Malaysia has been drawn together with relative minnows in Group A of ISTAF SuperSeries Malaysia 2013/14 and look set to make their third consecutive final of the three-leg elite sepaktakraw tournament.
The national team are in Group A with Iran, India and Indonesia and thanks to the tournament’s points scoring system, have also been giving top billing despite playing bridesmaid to Korea at ISTAF SuperSeries India and Thailand at ISTAF SuperSeries Thailand. The third leg kicks-off from October 31 – November 3 at the Likas Sports Complex here.
“For us, Indonesia will prove the toughest team in Group A,” said national team manager Jamaluddin Hassan at the tournament’s Press conference here today. “But we need to beat them to top our group so as to avoid meeting Thailand in the semi-finals.”
Although they have an easy route, claiming the coveted SuperSeries title is a different matter altogether. Judging by the way the Thais clinically overcame Malaysia in the Bangkok final, the national team will have to bring their A game to have a shot at winning.
Malaysia will also have to do without veteran striker Noorshahruddin Mad Ghani after he sustained a ligament injury in Thailand. But Jamaluddin is hoping that home ground advantage will give his team an edge, a sentiment echoed by Persatuan Sepaktakraw Malaysia (PSM) president Dato’ Haji Ahmad Ismail.
“I’m sure that with sufficient home crowd support and encouragement, our boys will give 101% and do their best to beat Thailand in the final,” said Ahmad, adding that ISTAF SuperSeries Malaysia would give sport fans the opportunity to watch the best teams in the world.
The Thais, who are in Group B with Japan, Singapore, Brunei and Germany, have been seeded second in the tournament while Japan and Iran are ranked third and fourth, respectively.
First-leg winners Korea, who were disqualified from ISTAF SuperSeries Thailand for walking off during their semi-final match against Malaysia after disputing a referee’s decision, have been suspended from the tournament pending disciplinary action.
The Malaysian women’s team will find it tough to progress to the semi-final after being drawn with Vietnam and second seeds Korea in Group A. The national team lost to the Vietnamese in both legs in the third-fourth playoff matches and while they have shown some improvement, are not expected to compete for top honours.
Defending champions Thailand are grouped with Indonesia and Japan and are poised to make it a hat-trick of wins after defeating Indonesia and Korea in the opening and second leg, respectively, of ISTAF SuperSeries 2013/14.
The ISTAF SuperSeries platform is created by Asia Sports Ventures (ASV) – ISTAF’s exclusive global commercial and development partner. The Malaysian leg is supported by PSM.
ASV Director and CEO Jeff Chue said ISTAF SuperSeries Malaysia 2013/14 would be aired in High Definition (HD) – a first for sepaktakraw. Selected matches from the tournament will also be aired live, which would enable more Malaysians to cheer on their team.
“Matches including the men’s quarter-finals, third-fourth placing match and both men’s and women’s finals will be aired live over ASTRO Arena and RTM,” he said. “This is part of our initiative to bring the game to a wider audience and allow sport fans to be closer to the action.”
All in all, ISTAF SuperSeries Malaysia 2013/14 will be watched by fans in 70 countries.
ISTAF SuperSeries MALAYSIA 2013/14
October 30th- November 3rd
Group A: Malaysia (1), Iran, India, Indonesia
Group B: Thailand (2), Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Germany
Group A: Korea (2), Vietnam, Malaysia
Group B: Thailand (1), Japan, Indonesia
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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