MALACCA (7 FEBRUARY 2015): Malaysia advanced to the final of the ISTAF SuperSeries MALAYSIA 2014/15 MELAKA for a showdown against defending champions Thailand at the Malacca International Trade Centre tomorrow.
Backed by the roaring support from an estimated 2,500 fans which include Malacca State Executive Councillor for Sports and Health, Datuk Hj Ab Rahaman Ab Karim, the Malaysians went on to carve a 21-11, 21-12 victory with little resistance from the highly taunted Koreans.
And now the hosts have they eyes glued on the coveted trophy by bagging their first ever ISTAF SuperSeries title here in this 753-year-old historical city of Malacca against a side that have been a dominant force since the 2011/12 inaugural event.
Thailand defeated Singapore 21-13, 21-13 in the semi-finals of this second leg of the ISTAF SuperSeries 2014/15.
For the Malaysians, this will be their second appearance in the final of ISTAF SuperSeries 2014/15 following a 2-1 defeat against Thailand in the ISTAF SuperSeries MYANMAR 2014/15 at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium in Nay Pyi Taw last November.
Malaysian team captain, Farhan Adam, standing at 161cm and plays the key position of striker, said: “We never expected it to be that easy against Korea. It came as a surprise to us but now we are growing in confidence having crossed the semi-finals stage. Our motivation was at all-time high with the support from the fans before start of the match.”
He added that his side will not be pressured against Thailand in Sunday’s final.
“I know the expectations are very high and we will do our best to perform here. It’s also about time we win the ISTAF SuperSeries and I am confident we will be able to do it this time,” added Farhan.
The trio of Farhan, Syahir Rosdi (tekong) and Hanafiah Dollah (feeder) were simply in their element as they shut out the Koreans led by Park Hyeonggeum (tekong), Jeon Youngman (feeder) and Im Ansoo (striker) with astute blocks and an equally strong defence. The Malaysians were at the front all the way in the first set, taking a 10-4 lead, moving on to 15-6 and sealing it at 21-12.
In the second set, the Koreans could not find the answer to Syahir’s serve as the ball travelled at speeds of between 60-70kph. Farhan and Hanafiah added to the Koreans agony with leaping strikes and occasional flicking shots at the net as well.
The Thais introduced ace striker Thawisek Thongsai against Singapore, left-footed Siriwat Sakha as tekong and Panupong Petlue playing the feeder’s role. On the opposite end, the Singaporeans had team captain Farhan Amran (tekong), Yassin Suhaimi (feeder) and Hafiz Nor Izam Jaafar (striker) against a side that has won all SuperSeries tournaments and still gaining in confidence.
Though Singapore earned the first point in the opening set, it was the Thais who raced to take a 5-2 lead before Singapore rallied to level at 10-10 and then 13-13 but that was as far as they went. Siriwat pulverised the opponents with five aces and the lethal combination of Thawisek-Panupong ended Singapore’s dreams at the net to win 21-13 in just 16 minutes.
The second set was clearly dominated by the Thais despite resting Thawisak for Suriyon Koonpimon as they shot to a 10-4 lead, extended it to 14-8 and never looked back to clinch victory at 21-13 in 15 minutes to reach their second final of the ISTAF SuperSeries 2014/15.
“We have never underestimated any team in this tournament, let alone Singapore. They are a much respected side and played their best against us in the semi-finals,” said team coach Somprn Sunyabutnapha. “I am happy my team managed to pull away for the points and we deserve this win.”
In playoff matches, Myanmar defeated China 21-16, 21-13 to finish fifth while Indonesia edged Japan 21-18, 21-17.
ISTAF SuperSeries MALAYSIA 2014/15 MELAKA is the second leg of the ISTAF SuperSeries after the success of the opening round in Myanmar. The tournament is jointly organised by the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) and Asia Sports Ventures (ASV), ISTAF’s exclusive global commercial and developmental partner. It is being held with the support of the Malacca State Government and Sepaktakraw Association of Malaysia.
ISTAF SuperSeries MALAYSIA 2014/15 MELAKA was televised on ASTRO Arena, ASTRO SuperSports, ASTRO SuperSports HD and RTM. For the very first time, fans could also catch all four days of tournament action live on www.sepaktakraw.org.
RESULTS (7th February 2015)
Semi-finals: Malaysia bt Korea 2-0 (21-11, 21-12); Thailand bt Singapore 2-0 (21-13, 21-13).
Tomorrow (8th February 2015) – Men’s Final: Thailand vs Malaysia (4.30pm).
Released by Shekhinah PR on behalf of Asia Sports Ventures.
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