HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah (L) witnessing Brunei's sepak takraw athletes in action during the 27th SEA Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, yesterday. Infofoto
Brunei's Abdul Hadi Ariffin Matazi (L) and Md Shukri Jaineh try to stop Indonesia's Saiful Rijal during yesterday's match. BT/ Yee Chun Leong
Nine service faults in the third set killed off the national sepak takraw team's chances of upsetting Indonesia yesterday.
Brunei lost 2-1 (21-12, 19-21, 21-11) to their opponents for the second time in as many days in the Group A match of the men's double event at the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Naypyidaw.
The Sultanate started the match off with Md Shukri Jaineh on the bench while the duo of Ismail Ang and Abdul Hadi Ariffin Matazi took to the floor at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium B.
Indonesia were represented by Samsul Hadi and Saiful Rijal, who had beaten the same Bruneian pair 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) when they met in the semi-finals of the men's team double event on Thursday.
The opening set was only close in the early going with both teams tied 8-8 before Indonesia notched six consecutive points to build a lead that they never relinquished.
National sepak takraw coach sent in Shukri in the second set and it turned things around for Brunei.
They got off to a quick start to build a four-point lead but Indonesia, despite looking tired after a meeting against Myanmar in the final of the men's team double earlier in the day, stuck to them and squared things up at 16-16.
The match looked over after Indonesia scored the next three points but Brunei closed out the set strongly with five straight points to push the match into a decider.
It was a disastrous start in the final set for the Sultanate, who were first to serve, as they registered three straight service faults.
Indonesia jumped ahead and, while leading 6-2, substituted Husni Uba for Saiful Rijal.
The change of player unsettled Brunei and it - coupled with the Sultanate's struggles in service - allowed the Indonesians to go on for the win.
The team felt fatigue was the main factor in Brunei's service struggles, especially late in the match.
"We were tired. We tried to get the ball over the net and onto the other side. But somehow it just didn't want to," said the duo of Abdul Hadi and Shukri in an interview with The Brunei Times after the loss.
Brunei will take to the same venue again today to face Vietnam in the morning before going up against Laos in the afternoon.
The duo believes that they are on equal footing with the two countries and have a chance to progress into the next round.
"We must try to beat both of them. Indonesia are a stronger team and we almost beat them," they said.
National sepak takraw coach Ittiphol Chomchaissak was looking to rest his players against Indonesia, considering they had to play two matches today but never expected it to be so close.
"I was trying not to play Shukri today (Friday) because we have two matches tomorrow. I didn't want them to go all out because we knew how difficult it is to play Indonesia," explained Ittiphol.
"But we made it a close game and could have even won it. We wanted to make sure that the players are not too tired because we have equal chance of beating the next two opponents," he added.
"It will be 50-50 matchups but hopefully we will be able to win."