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SEPAK TAKRAW: Unconvincing wins over unfancied foes
MALAYSIA may have qualified for the quarter-finals of ISTAF SuperSeries Thailand 2013/14, but the way they have gone about doing it has left a lot to be desired.
The national team defeated Japan 15-10, 15-12 and Germany 15-7, 15-6 in their Group B matches, but were largely unimpressive despite their straight-set wins against teams ranked below them.
Team manager Jamaluddin Hassan said his charges had to learn to stick to their usual game and not play at the same level as lesser-ranked teams if they intended to perform at a higher level.
"But having said that, we still need to train even harder to speed up our game and reduce the number of errors, particularly when it comes to our service," he said, adding that they also had to work on getting into rhythm as fast as possible as there was no room for error in the three-set format.
In keeping with their practice of exposing all players to top-level competition, Jamaluddin and coach Iskandar Arshad have tried out new combinations in both their SuperSeries matches.
First-choice tekong Ahmad Aizat Azmi and SuperSeries newcomers Mohd Syazreen Qamar Salehan (feeder) and Mohd Hanafiah Dolah (striker) were used against Germany while Norshahruddin Mad Ghani, Mohd Syazreen and Sahidan Md Ali took to the court against Japan.
Hanafiah struck seven winners against Germany, but Sahidan's first SuperSeries match saw the 19-year-old tekong fumbling with eight service errors.
"Despite some poor performances, we still intend to use all our players in the SuperSeries and not just stick to only the tried and tested ones," said Jamaluddin.
"They have been training for a long time and need to prove that they can remain in the team."
Malaysia will meet China in today's quarter-finals.
The women's team will meet top seeds and defending champions Thailand in the semi-finals after completing their Group B fixtures yesterday.
Malaysia, who lost their first match 16-14, 15-11 to Korea, bounced back to beat China 15-8, 15-7 and were awarded an automatic 2-0 walkover win over Indonesia in their last match.
Korea, who defeated China 15-8, 15-5 in their last Group B match, will take on Vietnam in the other semi-final.