Brunei assured of medals in China

Indonesia's Hendra Pago (L) tries to block a shot from Thailand's Uthen Kukheaw (R) during their men's team Sepak Takraw match at the 3rd Asian Beach Games in Haiyang, China, yesterday. Brunei are assured of medals at the Games after Myanmar pulled out from the competition.Picture: AFP

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

THE national sepak takraw team achieved their target after being handed the luck of the draw.

They have been confirmed at least a bronze medal at the 3rd Asian Beach Games after Myanmar pulled out of the tournament at the coastal city of Haiyang of Shandong Province in China.

Brunei were initially grouped with Myanmar and Indonesia in Group A of the inter-regu discipline, whereby the top two advance into the semi-finals at the June 16-22 biennial competition.

With Myanmar, who were runners-up in the previous two editions in 2008 and 2010, out of the picture, it means that both teams in Group A automatically qualify for the next round.

It was definitely good luck for the Sultanate considering that they finished joint-third in the previous two editions after losing to Myanmar.

Brunei's only group stage match will be today against Indonesia at Fengxiang Beach at 2.30pm.

Despite progressing into the semi-finals even before kick off, national sepak takraw coach Ittiphol Chomchaissak feels that they will have to go all out against Indonesia in search for a victory.

"It is a must win game for us. We cannot lose because we don't want to meet Thailand in the semi-finals," said Ittiphol in a phone interview from China yesterday.

The defending champions and World No 1, Thailand, are in Group B together with hosts China and Vietnam.

"We have beaten Indonesia in Oman two years ago but it is a 50-50 game because they are a good team. I just hope the players are in their top form come game time," he said.

Asked on how the players are feeling at the moment, Ittiphol replied: "The weather here is quite cold and there are strong winds. We have practised at the venue and it is very similar to the one we have (in Brunei). There should be no problems."

A total of 13 sports are being contested at the competition and the Sultanate are only taking part in sepak takraw.

The six-man squad Ismail Ang, Mohd Azri Tahir, Mohd Shukri Jaineh, Abdul Amin Mahari, Nur Alimin Sunggoh and newcomer Mohd Basyiruddin Hj Kamis are the ones flying the flag for the Sultanate in China.

The team started training from the beginning of the year and even had sparring opportunities with the best Thailand over a period of three weeks prior to the tournament.

The semi-finals will be held tomorrow.

The Brunei Times