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Wednesday October 30, 2013 MYT 8:59:00 PM
Wednesday October 30, 2013 MYT 9:10:43 PM
by ashreena pillai
Malaysian sepak takraw player Shahrul Fazry Mohd Hanafiah (centre) in a match against Myanmar in July in this filepic. The national team have to top their group in the third leg of the ISTAF SuperSeries beginning Thursday in Kota Kinabalu if they hope to reach the final.
PETALING JAYA: The eagerly-awaited third leg of the ISTAF Sepak Takraw SuperSeries kicks off in Kota Kinabalu on Thursday.
On paper, Malaysia seem to have an easy route to their third consecutive final, with their likely opponents being world champions Thailand.
However, it could all come to naught if they fail to top their group.
The top seeds have been drawn in Group A with fourth seeds Iran, India and Indonesia. Malaysia must win all their matches to progress to the knockout stage, where they could meet third seeds Japan, who are in Group B with second seeds Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Germany.
Finishing second in the group could be disastrous as they might meet the Thais in the semi-finals.
National team manager Jamaluddin Hassan has warned his men to be at the top of their game, beginning with their opening match against Iran and their second game against Indonesia – both on Friday.
He then went on to single out Indonesia as their biggest threat in their group.
Meanwhile South Korea, winners of the first leg in New Delhi, have been suspended from the Sabah leg for staging a walkout during their semi-final match against Malaysia in Bangkok last month following a dispute over the referee’s decision.
In the women’s competition, Malaysia can forget about progressing beyond the group stage after being drawn with world No. 2 Vietnam and world No. 4 and second seeds South Korea in Group A.
The odds are heavily stacked against the world No. 3 Malaysians, who had lost to Vietnam twice in the Series – during the third- and fourth-placed matches in New Delhi (0-3) and Bangkok (2-3) respectively. They also fell 3-0 to South Korea in the group stages in Bangkok last month.
Top seeds and defending champions Thailand, drawn with Indonesia and Japan, are poised to make it a hat-trick of wins after emerging as champions in the first two legs – defeating Indonesia (3-1) and South Korea (3-0) respectively in the final.
Tags / Keywords:
Malaysia, Thailsna, sepak takraw
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