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Chia Han Keong
Thursday, Sep 25, 2014

Sports

Wake-up call not to underrate rivals

The Straits Times | Chia Han Keong | Thursday, Sep 25, 2014

It was an emotional roller coaster for (from left) Eddy Nor Shafiq Sahari, Mohamad Farhan Amran and Muhammad Hafiz Nor Izam Jaafar who were awarded bronze medals by default despite not making the semis.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's sepak takraw team want to be deserving of any medal won and acknowledge that the quest has got tougher with the strides made by non-traditional-playing countries.

The wake-up call has come after the Republic won a bronze - the first Asiad medal from the sport since 2002 - but only by default.

Indeed, team manager Mohd Nasri Haron wished that they had earned it the hard and honest way - by winning their vital pool match against Japan on Sunday.

Instead, they were stretched to their limit in a tense men's doubles match which Japan narrowly won 19-21, 21-14, 25-23.

"We should have won that match. It would have been better if we had shown our strengths on the court and defeated our opponents to earn the bronze," he said.

It was a feat for Japan, considering that they had set up their sepak takraw federation only in 1989 while Singapore's own was formed way back in 1959.

The loss meant the Republic could not advance to the semi-finals, where losers do not have to play off for bronze.

The defeat, admitted team captain Mohamad Farhan Amran, was tough to take.

"We wept after the match because we knew we should have won," the 33-year-old said yesterday.

"We were confident facing Japan but they proved that non-traditional countries have made a lot of improvement in a short time."

He admitted he had trouble sleeping on Sunday but woke up to the news that Singapore had been awarded bronze.

Laos had failed to turn up for their semi-final against South Korea on Sunday afternoon. After trying frantically to locate them, organisers found them still having lunch at the Athletes Village.

Despite postponing the 2pm match by 20 minutes, Laos still did not make an effort to show up and even said they would be fine if a walkover was conceded to South Korea.

They were duly disqualified for dissent, with the Koreans advancing to yesterday's final, where they lost to Myanmar.

As Singapore were the fifth-best team in the competition, they were promoted to bronze-medallists.

Said Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation secretary general Abdul Halim Kader, who is also president of the Asian Sepak Takraw Federation: "Laos' actions were serious breaches of conduct.

"They disrupted the tournament, especially since the match was supposed to be shown live on Korean TV.

"We cannot accept their unprofessional attitude and actions.

"There will be a disciplinary hearing to decide if further punishment is necessary."

The Laos team could not be contacted for comment yesterday. As for Singapore, they have little time to celebrate the reprieve and a long-awaited Asian Games medal, with the team and regu events coming up.

"Definitely, it has given us a boost to work harder because we now know how easy it is for the chance to slip away from us," said Farhan.

"We have been training together since February for this Games.

"The other events will get even harder and we have to show that we are deserving of any medal we get."

hankeong@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 23, 2014.
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