THE national sepak takraw team is in the final stage of their preparation for the Asian Beach Games to be held in Danang Vietnam from September 24 to October 3 — although they will be without three of the players who won gold in the sport in the last edition in 2014.
Brunei beat South Korea 2-1 to win gold medal in the men’s trio event at Patong Beach in Phuket in 2014 — the result the country’s best at the Games after bronze medals in the previous three editions. In an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday, the team manager Hj Ibrahim Mamun said that the team is training under the able guidance of national coach Rawat Parbchompoo and assistant coach Japar Wali.
“The team are now in the last phase of their training programme and spend most of the time now at the gym to maintain their fitness and conditioning,” said Hj Ibrahim when met at the Menglait Sports Complex. “Coach Rawat and Japar have trained the athletes since February and they have worked very hard over the past months to prepare them (athletes).
“The coaches went through a thorough selection process for the team, where they started with 15 players and now we only have six left in the squad,” he explained. The country will be represented by Abdul Hadi Ariffin Metali, Ismail Ang, Jati Hidayat Saidi, Shukri Jaineh and Mohd Alifuddin Jamaluddin in two events; men’s trio and double.
Senior players Mohd Hafizzuddin Jamaludin, Nur Alimin Sunggoh, Jamaluddin Hj Marzi — who were part of the team that won gold medal at the previous edition of the tournament in Thailand — have been left out of this year’s squad. “The selection this year was not based on talent and skill only. The coaches also took into account the discipline and attitude of the athletes… so the athletes are being observed throughout and their attendance were also recorded,” continued Hj Ibrahim.
Assistant coach Japar believes that this year’s squad has the capability to replicate the country’s good performance at the last edition of the biennial tournament two years ago. “We have a good training programme this year,” said Japar, who has worked with the national team for 13 years. “Even though we didn’t get the chance to go for any overseas training, I think our players are ready.
“In sepak takraw, strength, endurance and mentality are very important… And I think at the end of the day, it is down to the players themselves if they want to win this badly. “We will face the best teams in Asia and I hope we will be getting a favourable draw in our group this year,” added Japar.
Sepak takraw could be the only sport representing the country this year as petanque — the other sport present at the previous edition of the tournament in Phuket — announced last month through their captain Mazlan Hj Yahya that petanque will miss out on this year’s Games.