Hyderabad: Thailand men and women teams defended their titles successfully notching up contrasting victories in the ISTAF World Cup Sepak Takraw Championship at the GMC Balayogi Stadium in Gachibowli on Sunday.
While the men’s team defeated a spirited Malaysia 21-19, 23-21 in a closely-fought match, the girls cruised to a commanding 21-11, 21-19 victory to emerge champions. In the men’s final, the match started on even keel with both teams fighting out for each point. There was nothing much to separate as both teams were locked at 8-8. But from thereafter, Thailand showed better on-court coordination to take a 17-13 lead. But the Malaysian men bounced back with three straight points before losing the first set. The second set started with Malaysian team taking control before losing a three-point lead early in the set. Thailand led 12-9 before the stadium lights went off for a brief while. The game was stopped. On resumption the dominating Thailand sealed the deal in a nail-biter with a 23-21 win.
Speaking after the match, coach Napha Tangto said that the team had a good first set but the second set was a tough one. “We won the first set comfortably despite the close scores. But Malaysian team played well in the second. We had to give our best to hold them at 23. The set could have gone either way. But we are happy to win the cup again,” he added.
Earlier in the women’s final, Thailand girls opened up a good 9-3 lead and then followed it up with 14-5 in the first set. But the Vietnam girls bounced back with six straight points to reduce the margin. However, the defending champions made amends by recording an easy 21-11 win. In the second set too, the script followed with both teams locked at 12-all before the champions took the lead at 19-16. Despite a late resilience from Vietnam with four straight points, Thailand girls managed to close the match at 21-19.
Speaking after the match, coach Kampon Tubsit said that their girls didn’t play to their full potential but still managed to win. “These girls are very young. They lack experience. But the 20-day training camp ahead of the World Cup helped us. We are excited to win the trophy here. We will now focus on Kings Cup and hopefully we will win that,” he added. He also praised Vietnam girls for showing resilience in the second set. “The opposition also played well in the second set. They fought back hard and their next generation looks strong,” he concluded.
Men: Final: Thailand beat Malaysia 2-0 (21-19, 23-21);
Third Place: India, Singapore;
Women: Final: Thailand bt Vietnam 2-0 (21-11, 23-19)
Third Place: Iran, Malaysia.