Sunny (second from left) talking to the players after a training session at Curyff Court in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.
DESPITE playing with a shin injury, national 5-A-Side blind football team captain Muhamad Mazwan Muhamad Shakri braved through the pain to lead the team into the final of the ASEAN Paragames 2014 5-A-Side Football (B1) in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, last month.
However, the team fell short of the gold medal and ended up as the first runner-up after losing to Thailand 3-0 in the final.
Speaking of the match, Muhamad Mazwan said he was disappointed for not being in the best of form to participate in the major tournament.
“I suffered from the injury two weeks before the game and I could not train fully for fear of injuring my leg further.
“During the final, our performances were not at our peak and our opponents took advantage of that,” he said after the national team’s weekly training at Cruyff Court in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.
The national team suffered a two-point deficit in the first half of the final and the Thai players continued their domination in the second half, ending the match 3-0.
“Our defence was rather loose in the first half but we tried to catch up in the second half. I thought we still had hope after trailing 2-0 in the first half but our defence was just not enough to counter the formidable Thai offence.
“Despite the loss, we will train harder, especially in strengthening our goal shooting skills,” he said.
Three teams participated in the paragames where teams competed in a round robin format before the top two teams proceeded to the final.
During the round robin, the Malaysian team defeated Myanmar 2-0 and lost to Thailand
1-0 to secure a spot in the final with Thailand.
Disability football coach Sunny Shalesh said three key players suffered injuries two weeks before the games and this had cost the team the gold medal in their first outing in the
“My strategy was to have Muhamad Mazwan cut of the opponent’s attack by stationing him in the middle of the court as he has high endurance and is a physically fit player.
“One of the Thai strikers is very talented and we are still glad for clinching the silver,” he said.
CIMB bank is the main sponsor of the players’ equipment for the paragames in Myanmar.
The national team players will also be forming their own recreational team to compete in the second Malaysia Blind Sport Association (MBSA) / Malaysian Sports Council (MSN) 5-A-Side Blind Football (B1) Malaysian Championships.
“This is a part of our grassroots development programme to unearth new talents and a selection process to put together a team of junior and senior footballers to compete internationally.
“We have two additional teams this time compared to last year when only four teams had joined,” said Sunny, adding that Columbia Asia Hospital will be the championship’s kits sponsor.
Moving on, Sunny is also aiming high for the Asian Paragames 2014 Football 5-a-side (Blind) event in Incheon, Korea this October.