Asian Games: Singapore settle for sepak takraw bronze in quadrant event after defeat by Indonesia

Indonesia's Saiful Rijal in action during the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant semi-finals against Singapore on Aug 31, 2018.
Indonesia's Saiful Rijal in action during the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant semi-finals against Singapore on Aug 31, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Singapore's Muhammad A'fif Bin Safiee in action during the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant semi-finals against Indonesia on Aug 31, 2018.
Singapore's Muhammad A'fif Bin Safiee in action during the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant semi-finals against Indonesia on Aug 31, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Singapore's Muhammad Asri Bin Aron (centre) in action during the final Group B fixture of the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant competition against Iran on Aug 31, 2018.
Singapore's Muhammad Asri Bin Aron (centre) in action during the final Group B fixture of the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant competition against Iran on Aug 31, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
The Singapore team rejoicing after winning the final Group B fixture of the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant competition against Iran on Aug 31, 2018.
The Singapore team rejoicing after winning the final Group B fixture of the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant competition against Iran on Aug 31, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

PALEMBANG - He had come to watch Singapore face Indonesia in the Asian Games sepak takraw quadrant semi-finals at Jakabaring's Ranau Hall on Friday (Aug 31) but this particular spectator just could not keep his eyes open as Singapore surrendered 21-8, 21-12.

Farhan Amran and Co could hardly keep pace with the hosts' quality of play, and indeed, even Indonesian fans who shook Ranau's foundations just moments earlier in the Indonesia-Vietnam women's semi-finals, walked out midway through the men's contest.

But Singapore's takraw men will not leave the Asiad empty-handed.

Indeed, they will return home with two bronze medals - double their loot from four years ago in Incheon, South Korea.

But they realistically admit it will be a while before they can match their South-east Asian neighbours.

"We did think we could win gold, or at least make the final in the quadrant (event), but I'm not disappointed," said coach Padzli Othman.

He rued the left knee and right thigh injury that chief striker A'fif Safiee suffered earlier in the day, which had hindered his performance in the encounter.

"The players did their very best, and this is already much better than what we did in Incheon."

Padzli accepts the fact that Singapore's quality ranks them fourth in Asean, and that is because most regional teams train full-time. And until they move to keep up, gold medals will be hard to come by.

Vice-captain Farhan Aman sang from the same song sheet.

"We gave 110 per cent in every game here. We need to improve in terms of errors, but this is the best that a team from Singapore can do," said Farhan, who admitted to being "a little disappointed" by the semi-final defeat.

"Right now, other teams are eating and sleeping takraw, training together every day. We need to change, we need full-time players for takraw, and maybe we can start (by having a team) in the Singapore Sports School (SSP)," added the 31-year-old, who works in the Singapore Civil Defence Force, along with two of his team-mates.

"If we have a proper system to groom young players, and we had them in SSP, in 10 years' time we will be at the other Asean teams' level."

But this does not mean they will raise the white flag, at least not at the Philippines' SEA Games next year. The men won a silver and seven bronzes at the 2015 Singapore Games, but did not participate at the last edition in Kuala Lumpur.

"Most of this team are in their mid-20s and have a good five years to go, and we have young players coming up too," said Padzli, who believes the Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation "has the ability to support full-time players".

"We know where we stand, but the next SEA Games, our target must be gold."