Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Squad all fired up

LET'S forget about history and focus on the future.

That seems to be the tune at the national sepak takraw camp as Malaysia make a return to the Sea Games after the controversial withdrawal, due to disagreement over the balls being used, at the 2007 Games in Korat.

A gold is targeted with one of the three regus being primed to deliver apart from the doubles pair of Mohd Shaifullah Mohd Nor and Nurakmal Firdauz Ahmad

This is a brave target being set by the Sepak Takraw Association of Malaysia (STAM), considering all but one of the 22-strong squad will be making their Sea Games debut in Laos.

This is a squad of new faces absorbed just last year into the Gemilang 2010 programme that is geared towards the Asian Games in Guangzhou next year.

The squad have taken some hard knocks and criticism, mainly after their defeat to Indonesia in the inter-regu event at the King's Cup in Bangkok in June.

"People sometimes don't want to understand that we need time to really prepare a squad and along the way we need to enter them in competitions more to test them and give them the required exposure," said team manager Tengku Adnan Tengku Burhanudin.

Apart from Zulhafizazudin Rosslan, the entire squad are made of new faces.

"Of course, with a very young squad like we have now, we had to accept that they were raw and shaky in the beginning. It wasn't until these final months before the Sea Games, that I could really see they were beginning to mature," said Tengku Adnan.

"A lot of people just want to see the team winning, and just don't understand the time we need to have a team that are really prepared. But we maintain that our main target is the Asian Games next year, so there is still some time before this team really mature.

"Having said that, we've got solid preparation behind us and we've carefully ensured that they didn't peak too early and falter at the Sea Games. We will enter the Sea Games with a target and it will be between these two events -- the inter-regu or the doubles pairing to deliver our targeted gold medal."

"The doubles pair stand a good chance of delivering a gold, as Thailand have opted out of that event under regulations which stipulate each country can choose to enter teams in three out of the four events contested at the Sea Games.

Tengku Adnan said the regus and pairings may not be the same combinations as featured in previous meets this year.

"We're not going to give out any news on that and we might be making changes at the team managers' meeting in Vientiane. This is a strategy that we have to employ as Thailand is watching us very closely." NST


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