Sunday, September 14, 2008

Malaysia wins at beach soccer

MALAYSIA won the first ever Desaru Beach Soccer Invitational Raja Muda Johor Cup after a thumping 4-2 victory over favourites Thailand in the finals.

The national beach soccer team entered the finals as the underdogs but did the nation proud when they started playing more aggressively during the second period after a goalless first period.

Malaysia opened the scoring through Mazlan Suid, who scored a clinical goal from close range. They were up 2-0 after Thailand’s Kay Langkawong’s back pass to his goalkeeper went horribly wrong and careened into the net.

In the thick of it: A Malaysian player races for the ball as his Thai opponents try to bring him down.

Sensing a do-or-die situation, Malaysia pumped up the pressure and their efforts paid off as the team’s top scorer Mohamad Hamidi Mohamad increased the lead with a superb shot from the edge of the area.

National team captain Wan Adremy Indra Wan Adnan showed his skills by outdribbling three Thailand players before making it 4-0.

In the third period, Thailand tried to make a comeback with two goals from Sarif Sanui and Chairat Choemchan but Malaysia managed to defend well and clinched the prestigious cup and pocketed the US$8,000 (RM25,000) purse.

Wan Adremy Indra, who was named Man of the Match, said he was very happy to lead the team to lift the cup and insisted that it was extra special because it was on the eve of the country’s 51st National Day.

Winners: The Malaysian team posing for a photograph after the event.

“This win is not just for us but for the whole country as well.

“I guess our strategy was to never give up and play to the best of our abilities,” he said, adding that the team had been training for three weeks before the tournament.

He said that the team would be competing in the 1st Asian Beach Games in Bali from Oct 18 to 26 and they hoped to repeat the success.

The team’s assistant manager Mustaza Ahmad said the players showed real class throughout the tournament.

“I am really proud of them and right now all of us are over the moon with joy,” he said.

Congratulations: Tunku Ismail Ibrahim (left) presenting the Man of the Match trophy to Wan Adremy Indra.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Pongsak Khongkeaw conceded that Malaysia were the better team in the final but felt they owed their defeat to fatigue.

“The tournament took its toll on us and some of our players were too tired or injured by the time we reached the final.

“However, we gave our best but luck was not on our side,” he said.

Thailand received a trophy and cash prize of US5,000 (RM16,000).

Vocal support: Thai fans cheering their team on during the event.

Earlier in the semi-finals, Malaysia beat Laos 2-1 while Thailand overcame Indonesia 8-3 to book their respective places in the final.

Indonesia claimed third place and left Laos fourth place after edging them 3-0.

The Raja Muda of Johor Tunku Ismail Ibrahim also led a team to face the Asean all stars in an exhibition match.

After drawing 4-4 in normal time, Tunku Ismail’s team was beaten 2-1 on penalties.

Five other teams which competed in the four-day tournament were Timor Leste, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Myanmar.

The Star

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