KUALA LUMPUR, (MARCH 9, 2013): Both Malaysia and Thailand were let down by erratic service in the finals of the ISTAF SuperSeries 2013/14, but a more experienced Thai team took better advantage of their opponents’ errors to emerge 15-12, 15-10, 15-7 winners.
Playing in front of a packed Titiwangsa Stadium here today, the national team took a 3-0 lead in the first set on the Thai serve, only to see tekong Syahir Rosdi send all three of his serves into the net. This marked the start of safe play from the 18-year-old SuperSeries debutant, which saw him being replaced in the second set by Izurin Refin.
The 23-year-old, who shined in Malaysia’s semifinal match against Brunei, was however a pale shadow of himself and racked up five service errors. Syahir was brought back in the third set and put on a better show, but Thai striker Suphachai Maneenat’s continuous barrage of spikes proved too much for the Malaysians.
Thailand’s first choice tekong Kritsana Tanakorn was also having a mixed day at the office. The 25-year-old struck three aces in the first set but offset those with four service errors. He was replaced by Sitipong Khamchan, who despite sending sharp serves Malaysia’s way, was beset by inconsistent play during the second and final sets.
“You could see Syahir’s confidence level dropping after his first three errors,” said national coach Jamaluddin Hassan. “Izurin was also shaky, and when the Thais have a two set advantage, it’s very difficult to catch up.”
He also singled out feeder Muqlis Borhan for playing safe instead of setting up short spikes for striker Hanafiah Dolah. Jamaluddin, however, had no regrets about his young charges despite missing out on the best opportunity yet to win a SuperSeries title.
“We had home ground advantage and the Thais played their C team,” he said. “But this was Izurin, Syahir and (striker) Khairol Zaman Hamir’s first international tournament, and they have acquitted themselves well,” he said, adding that the team would need more exposure and experience for them to shine.
With the loss, Malaysia will have to look to next season to claim their first SuperSeries title. They lost the second and third 2013/14 preliminary legs in Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu to Thailand and the first in New Delhi to Korea.
Thailand, the tournament’s top seeds and defending champions, emerged the overall winner of the ISTAF SuperSeries 2013/14 season after winning today’s finals and two preliminary legs.
The Koreans, the only team in this tournament to stretch the Thais to five sets, finished in third after easily beating Brunei 15-5, 15-8, 15-10.
In the women’s competition, the national team lost 15-4, 15-8, 15-13 to Thailand in a match that was punctuated with mistakes by both teams.
Playing in their first ISTAF SuperSeries finals, the regu of Noor Fairuz Azizan, Nor Farhana Ismail and Rahilah Harun chalked up more errors than winners in the first set, only to see the top-ranked Thais emulate their game in the second. Both teams minimised their mistakes in the third set to put on a keenly-contested affair that ended with their closest match yet.
“I’m proud that we have made our first international finals,” said coach Md Fikri Nor. “Thailand is the best team in the world and always a tough opponent, but I’m satisfied with the way our team performed today.”
In the women’s third-fourth play-off match, Indonesia overcame a spirited Myanmar 16-14, 15-17, 9-15, 15-12, 15-10 in a epic match that lasted almost two hours.
The ISTAF SuperSeries FINALS 2013/14 is organised by Persatuan Sepaktakraw Malaysia and supported by the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF). The ISTAF SuperSeries platform was created by Asia Sports Ventures, ISTAF’s exclusive global commercial and developmental partner.
The ISTAF SuperSeries FINALS 2013/14 will be televised on ASTRO Arena, ASTRO SuperSports and SuperSports HD (all in High Definition) and RTM. Selected matches including the men’s quarter-finals, third-fourth placing match and both men’s and women’s finals are to be aired live.
The tournament will also be telecast to 70 countries worldwide.
ISTAF SuperSeries 2013/14 kicked off with ISTAF SuperSeries India in New Delhi (August
29-September 1), followed by ISTAF SuperSeries Thailand in Bangkok (September 26-29) and ISTAF SuperSeries Malaysia in Sabah (October 30-November 3).
Men’s: Thailand bt Malaysia 3-0 (15-12, 15-10, 15-7)
Women’s: Thailand bt Malaysia 3-0 (15-4, 15-8, 15-13)
Korea bt Brunei 3-0 (15-5, 15-8, 15-10)
Indonesia bt Myanmar 3-2 (16-14, 15-17, 9-15, 15-12, 15-10)
More information on ISTAF SuperSeries
Alongside the ISTAF World Cup, the elite, internationally-recognised ISTAF SuperSeries is the only sepaktakraw tournament acknowledged by ISTAF and therefore plays a key role in deciding the official ISTAF World Rankings.
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