Brunei started off their International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) Super Series 2013/2014 Final campaign with a bang after cruising to a 2-0 win over Japan in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Captain Ismail Ang, Mohd Hafizuddin Jamaluddin, Nur Alimin Sunggoh, Shukri Jaineh and Mohd Alifuddin Jamaluddin defeated Masahiro Yamada, Seiya Takano, Yuki Sato, Atsuki Shimizu and Masanori Hayashi 15-13 in the first set that lasted for 16 minutes, and the national team only took 12 minutes to beat their opponents 15-8 in the second set.
The victory against Japan was very important for the national team, with national coach Japar Wali previously telling The Brunei Times that Japan would be their sternest group stage test at the March 5-9 tournament.
"Japan will be the hardest in the group because their tekong, feeder and killer are strong," Japar said before departing for Malaysia on Monday.
"The last time we played them we lost 2-1 (17-15, 12-15, 15-12) with the junior team during the third leg in Sabah last year," he said.
Japan ranked fourth on the ISTAF world ranking while Brunei are seventh.
Thailand are the top ranked team in the world while Malaysia are second.
Brunei are set to face 11th ranked Iran and 12th ranked China in their Group D matches today at the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium.
The tournament has 13 teams competing for glory.
Group A is made up of Germany, India and defending champions Thailand while hosts Malaysia are in Group B alongside Singapore and France.
Group C consists of Indonesia, US and South Korea.
Brunei took part in all three ISTAF Super Series legs that were held last year.
They finished ninth during the first two legs in India and Thailand before placing sixth in Sabah.
Brunei Darussalam Sepak Takraw Association (Pestabaru) president Pg Hj Ali Hassan Pg Dato Seri Laila Jasa Hj Abbas had expressed hopes that a good performance from the team will motivate them heading into future tournaments.
"As the president, I hope that we can get a better rank this time round," said Pg Hj Ali, referring to the two ninth place finishes in India and Thailand and the sixth place finish in Sabah.
The Sultanate managed to pick up two bronze medals from the hoop event and men's team double event during last December's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar.
"Hopefully we can do well in the group stages and move to the next stage to boost the team's confidence again after the SEA Games," said Pg Hj Ali when met at the Brunei International Airport, Berakas, prior to the team's departure on Monday.