Malaysian blind footballers give Iranians hard fight

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s blind football team gave Asian defending champions Iran a serious run for their money before losing 2-0 at the IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships today.

“I think we really shocked Iran with our on-target try within the first minute,” said coach Sunny Shalesh after the match.

“Initially, the Iranians were so confident they only put two people on defense. After half-time, they changed their strategy and focused all four players on defense. That shows our attacks scared them.”

Despite the brave show, the team’s loss was a serious blow, bumping the team down to second place in the Group B table, one goal ahead of South Korea, which lost 3-0 to Iran.

The team needs to place in the top four to qualify for the 2018 IBSA World Championships, the “World Cup” of blind football.

But the team is determined to stay positive and do the country proud as they go up against South Korea tomorrow in a bid for the semifinals.

“Iran scored three field goals against Korea, and only one field goal against us,” said team captain Mohamad Amirul Arif. “I think we can defeat South Korea.”

Coach Sunny agreed, saying: “If the boys can defend against Iran, they can defend against South Korea.”

“We have a one-goal advantage over them, and we’re hungry for victory.”

Tomorrow’s match is do or die for the team - a loss will mean the end of their journey to the World Cup.

“We really want to win,” said Sunny. “We’ve been chasing our dream of making it to the World Championships for four years - we cannot lose now.”

The Malaysian blind football team’s quest to reach the World Cup is being documented through the Eye On The Ball project, a multimedia campaign by The Star's award-winning R.AGE team and CIMB Foundation.

The campaign will culminate in a feature-length documentary film, directed by award-winning filmmaker and R.AGE senior producer Chen Yih Wen, and is slated for a 2018 release.

Malaysia plays against South Korea on Thursday (Dec 14) at 11.30am at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium.



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