BRUNEI failed to defend their title in the team event after absorbing a 2-1 loss to Sabah yesterday in the sepak takraw competition of the Borneo Games at the Sg Kebun Sports Complex in Lumapas.
The hosts got off to a good start when they won the first set 21-15, 21-14. But the second set was a different scenario, with Sabah coming back strong and winning 21-10, 21-19. Sabah kept their momentum in the third set to take the set 21-18, 21-17 and wrap up the match.
Brunei's sepak takraw team coach, Muhd Maziz Abdullah, felt that not all was lost despite the defeat.
"Only one of teams is really strong team but we tried out best to defend our title. We had to prepare plenty of players for this tournament but lost our best ones due to the Southeast Asian Games which could have made the difference," said Muhd Maziz.
The sepak takraw coach was referring to Ismail Ang, Mohd Shukri Hainen and Nur Alimin Sunggoh who had to pull out of the Borneo Games as they will fly the flag for the country in the doubles event in the biennial tournament to be hosted for the first time by Laos from Dec. 9-18.
"However, I'm satisfied with the performance from all of them since most of them are new and this is just step forward for them for future tournaments," said Muhd Maziz.
Brunei have now won a medal in the team event for every year since the inauguration of the Games in Sabah in 2005, where they returned with silver and then the gold in 2007 in Kuching, Sarawak.
When asked on what he expects to achieve from the rest of the sepak takraw events left in the competition, Muhd Maziz replied: "We are most prepared for the triples event. The team (consisting of Md Azri Tahir, Abd Hadi Ariffin Matah and Abd Adib Hj Ahmad) that won their match today (Tuesday) will be our best chance of another medal in the event."
Muhd Maziz considers the 2010 Malaysian Games (SUKMA) hosts as the biggest threat in the event as well. "I do know that Melaka will have a strong team in this event as well but we will give them a good fight." Md Azri, the captain of the triples team, assured that the team would put up their best performance in hopes to getting another medal.
"It is going to be a difficult task with the other teams coming up as strong competitors. But we'll put in all we've got and hopefully we can still manage another medal," said Md Azri.
Meanwhile, Sabah coach Mohammad Kahar had it all figured out coming into the game against the hosts.
"I'm very satisfied with the results because we were determined on capturing the gold today (Tuesday) as we came prepared but we knew that Brunei, as the hosts, have their strengths and they put up a good fight. We just limited our mistakes and eventually won the game," said Mohammad.
When asked on his expectations on the triples and doubles events starting today, Mohammad replied: "We still need to improve but we know that Melaka will be strong contenders to capture the gold especially that they have brought the team that will be competing in SUKMA next year."
Sarawak beat Labuan 2-1 for the bronze.
Both the triples and doubles events are scheduled today starting at 8.30am.
Brunei meet Labuan in the doubles event at 9.30am and Sabah in the triples event at 2.30pm
Courtesy from Brunei Times