Aiming higher in sepak takraw

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam has enjoyed considerable success in sepak takraw following a series of podium finishes in both the continental and regional scene spanning more than a decade.

The Sultanate showed their pedigree as being among the best in the continent after they bagged medals in prestigious competitions such as the Asian Beach Games and the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Brunei garnered international attention when they captured bronze in the men’s regu event in the inaugural edition of the Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia in 2008.

The country’s first foray in the tournament saw them advance to the knock-out phase after finishing in second place in their group alongside Thailand and Philippines. Victory in the opening tie against Philippines ensured them a berth in the last four and a guaranteed bronze.

With more entrants in the next edition two years later, Brunei needed to rack up more wins as they were drawn in a four-team group alongside defending champions Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea.

Brunei, featuring Ismail Ang, Mohd Shukri Jaineh, Abdul Amin Mahari, Abdul Hadi Matali, Nur Alimin Sungoh and Mohd Azri Tahir, made a strong start to the campaign with an opening 2-1 group win against South Korea in Muscat, Oman.

South Korea had taken the opening set 21-15 but Brunei bounced back with a 21-17 score before sealing the decisive set with a 15-13 set to win the match.

Thailand proved too strong in the second match after they were decisively beaten in straight sets but a straight-set win against Indonesia helped them reach the knock-out phase and a successive bronze in men’s regu.

The third edition of the multi-sport meet in 2012 saw Mohd Basyiruddin bin Haji Kamis swapping places with Abdul Hadi in the line-up for the men’s regu team.

With the match against Myanmar being awarded a walkover, Brunei was guaranteed bronze alongside Indonesia though they were determined to finish top of the group. The Group ‘A’ encounter saw Indonesia edge Brunei 3-2 in an enthralling match-up. As group runners-up, Brunei faced a Thailand side gunning for a third successive title in the last four.

A year later, Brunei translated their form in the SEA Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar when they snatched two bronze in the men’s double team and men’s hoop event.

The trio of Humaidi Brahim, Mohd Hafizzuddin Jamaludin and Marzuki Munap was also installed in a newly-assembled line-up.

During the same year, the country enjoyed success in the world stage when they bagged bronze in the men’s hoop event in the King’s Cup World Sepak Takraw Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.

The historic King’s Cup bronze seemed to build their confidence as they finally struck gold in the men’s trios event in the Asian Beach Games in Phuket, Thailand in 2014.

The team comprising of Ismail Ang, Hafizuddin Jamaluddin, Nur Alimin Sungoh, Mohd Shukri Jaineh and Jamaluddin bin Haji Marzi contributed to the country’s sole gold medal in the Asian Beach Games.

The country stormed to the knock-out phase with three successive wins in the group stage, having accomplished each victory against China, India and South Korea without dropping a set.

Brunei dropped their first set for the first time against Myanmar in the semi-finals but clawed their way into contention after securing the second set before completing the win. With guaranteed silver, this was easily Brunei’s best performance in the Asian Beach Games. But they were setting their sights on gold with South Korea their final hurdle of their quest.

Brunei claimed the opening set in the final but South Korea took the match into a decider after securing the second set. With a number of championship points, Brunei wrapped up the match with gold representing one of the country’s finest accomplishments not just in sepak takraw but any sport in general.

Brunei continued their consistency of winning medals when they bagged bronze in the men’s team event in the King’s Cup in 2015.

In the same year, Brunei added bronze to their collection in the non-repetition primary and same stroke events in the SEA Games in Singapore.

With Brunei defending their men’s trios crown in the Asian Beach Games in Da Nang, Vietnam in 2016, the country reached the knock-out phase after finishing second in the group which included Indonesia, India and Nepal.

As Brunei settled for bronze, the latest achievement meant that the country has bagged a medal in each of their five appearances in the Asian Beach Games with one gold and four bronze to their name.

In the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Brunei bagged four bronze in the men’s regu, men’s team regu, non-repetition primary and linking events.