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Sunday November 3, 2013 MYT 10:32:00 PM
Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 7:25:41 AM
by shamshul fitri
So close. Malaysia lost to arch-rivals Thailand in the ISTAF Super Series sepak takraw final in Kota Kinabalu on Sunday despite leading by two sets. - BERNAMA Photo
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia came close to winning their first ISTAF SuperSeries sepak takraw title in Sabah but Thailand fought back from two sets down to win 3-2 at the Likas Sports Complex.
Malaysia, who have not beaten the Thailand sepak takraw team since 2005, fell 15-12, 15-11, 4-15, 12-15, 7-15 in a thrilling one-hour 39-minute tie.
The trio of Noor Azman Hamid, Mohd Syazreen Qamar Salehan and Hanafiah Dollah displayed heart and courage in claiming the first two sets.
But they never reckoned with the Thai’s resilience.
Thailand brought in first-choice tekong Rattadech Noijaroen for Tanawat Chumsena halfway through the second set.
At the beginning of the third set, the 20-year-old tekong threw Malaysia off course by changing his style with almost every serve.
The fourth set saw Malaysia fighting from 1-5 down to 12-13, but the Thais secured the final two points with a rare strike from feeder Panupong Petlue and a trademark spike from Anuwat Chaichana.
The fifth set saw the Thais turning it on to prevent the hosts from claiming their first win.
“I’m proud of the way our young team played today,” said national coach Jamaluddin Hassan.
“We started out really well, but the turning point was when Thailand changed their tekong and threw us off our rhythm.”
In the earlier semi-finals, Malaysia defeated Japan 15-11, 15-8, 15-2 while Thailand beat Indonesia 15-13, 15-9, 15-3.
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