Hanafiah Dolah of Malaysia makes a strike in the final of the ISTAF SuperSeries Finals against Thailand in KL on Sunday. Malaysia lost 3-0. - FAIHAN GHANI/ The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Four finals. Four defeats. It looks like Malaysia just cannot get it right when it matters the most as they were mowed down by Thailand in the showdown for the ISTAF SuperSeries Finals 2013-2014 title.
Malaysia gambled by fielding young tekong Syahir Rosdi in the starting lineup with feeder Muqlis Borhan and killer Hanafiah Dolah but it failed to ignite the team’s fortune’s against a rampant Thailand who won 15-12, 15-10, 15-7 at the Titiwangsa Stadium yesterday.
It was Malaysia’s fourth consecutive loss in the final this season. They lost to South Korea (3-0) in New Delhi and thrice to Thailand in Bangkok (3-0), Kota Kinabalu (3-2) and now in Kuala Lumpur.
“Nothing went out way tactically. We tried to employ different pattern plays but sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t and today was one of those days,” said a dejected national coach Jamaluddin Hassan.
Captain Muqlis also had an off day at the office, failing to inject creativity during the match. Replacements Izurin Refin (tekong) and Khairol Zaman Hamir Akhbar (killer) were no game changers either.
Also, there was a lot riding on the shoulders of 18-year-old Syahir who was playing on the biggest stage of his young career. However, his confidence took a nose dive after three of his first serves found the net in the opening set.
“Like I said previously, the game now depends heavily on the service and unfortunately Syahir got a little nervous. And Izurin didn’t do any better. I don’t think it was wrong to play Syahir. He impressed us with his consistency against Brunei (Saturday). If he keeps this up, he may just make our World Cup squad,” said Jamaluddin.
Thai team manager Tanawat Prasongcharoen praised his players Kirtsana Tanakorn (tekong), Somporn Jaisinghol (feeder) and Supachai Maneenat (killer) and 21-year-old tekong Sitipong Kamchan for their fine performance.
“It was a very difficult game for us. Despite the scoreline, it was not an easy match for our players. They had to play their best to earn the win. We’re very happy,” said Tanawat.
“Malaysia was under pressure today. Their tekong (Syahir) is good. The cheering from the home crowd was supposed to build him up, but it broke him down. If there was no pressure, things might have turned out differently, who knows,” he added.
In the women’s final, Malaysia’s Noor Fairuz Azizan (tekong), Nor Farhana Ismail (feeder), Rahilah Harun (striker) were almost powerless as they went down tamely to Thailand 3-0 (15-4, 15-8. 15-12).
Indonesia took third place after staging a mighty comeback from a set down to beat Myanmar 3-2 (16-14, 15-17, 9-15, 15-12, 15-10).
The only silver lining of the day was seeing Hanafiah winning the Men’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Thailand’s Wanwisa Jankaen took the women’s MVP title.