Oct 21, 2014

AXIATA CUP SET FOR HIGH DRAMA IN JAKARTA AND KUALA LUMPUR

The 2014 Axiata Cup returns with the promise of another exhilarating episode when the top Asian and European players assemble in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur for the top purse this November. Organised by Axiata Group, one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies, and in collaboration with Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) and Total Sports Asia (TSA), the Axiata Cup remains badminton’s richest team event in the world with a total prize money of USD1 million (RM3.3 million) on offer in this third edition.

Eight teams will play each other over seven consecutive days during the preliminary round stage at the Britama Arena Sports Mall, Kelapa Gading in Jakarta from November 27-December 3 followed by the semi-finals and finals on December 6-7 at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium (KLBA) in Cheras. The format of play for the Axiata Cup remains the same as last year where each tie in the Axiata Cup consists of four matches - men and women singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.

The top four teams with the most points after the League round qualify for the Play-off’s which will be held in Kuala Lumpur. The top seeded team will play the fourth-placed team and the second-placed team will play the third ranked team after the preliminaries.

All-Star Europe, who finished fifth last year earning USD60,000, will once again join the fray alongside All–Star Asia in the championships. Joining them will be marquee players from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines.
Last year Malaysia, led by World No. 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei, clawed back from a game down in this mixed team event to beat Thailand 3-1 in the 2013 Axiata Cup Final at the KLBA Stadium.

Besides the champions earning USD400,000, prize money for the remaining  teams will be distributed with the runners-up picking USD200,000, third-placed USD150,000; fourth USD100,000; fifth USD60,000; sixth USD40,000; seventh USD30,000 and USD20,000 for finishing in eighth spot.

Axiata Group Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, said since its inception in 2012, the Axiata Cup has been badminton’s most lucrative team competitive event with the objective of broadening the sports' fan base and exposing new talent.
“For the third year in a row, the Axiata Cup is still the world’s richest team prize purse for badminton team championship, USD1 million. It has also hosted some of badminton’s biggest names since its inception in 2012. This year the thrills and spills will continue as a stellar eight-team line-up is in store for all the badminton fans out there,” said Dato’ Sri Jamaludin in his opening remark at the launch in Kuala Lumpur.

“Having already placed ourselves in the record books with just two years to show under our sleeves, we, together with our partners, subsidiaries and associates throughout the region are keen on breaking more records,” added Dato’ Sri Jamaludin.
This year, Axiata has cast a wider net by announcing the inaugural edition of the Axiata Cup Juniors which is channelled to develop a new breed of junior players.

“We at Axiata hope that this initiative will provide Malaysia a bigger pool of players to develop from.  Exposing young players at an early stage is vital and competing in the Axiata Cup Juniors is about playing and feeling the excitement of a true professional badminton player,” he stressed.

The preliminary round of the Axiata Cup Juniors begins on October 31 and will witness an estimated 1,200 players between 13-16 years of age competing in the tournament.

Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) president, Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, acknowledged that Axiata Group with the support from BAC and Total Sports Asia has taken the sport of badminton onto a whole new dimension, creating a new event for the players and spreading the news and action of the competition in a more global and innovative branding, using the most sophisticated ways, ideas and digital media platforms.

“The Axiata Cup has truly become an important stop on the badminton tour calendar in the ASEAN region and will provide the biggest challenge for some of the leading players in the world while fans can enjoy a whole new experience as well,” said Tan Sri Mohd Nadzmi.

“Being an award winning event, the Axiata Cup will once again be an exciting display of action by the players, for the fans and the media. We hope that everyone can support this event by joining the excitements and real-life actions at the stadiums in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, watching it live on the television or on other digital platforms,” Tan Sri Mohd Nadzmi added.

The BAC, he stressed, is committed to creating new opportunities for member associations and with the support from forward-thinking companies such as Axiata Group Berhad, there will be a long and continuous growth and success in the Asian badminton community.


The Axiata Cup 2012 was named the No.1 event in the Event Marketing Category of the 7th International Sports Event Management in 2012 and in 2013 Axiata Cup won the bronze medal in the Best Use of Technology category in ISEM 2013 Awards.

#AxiataCup 

Sep 4, 2014

ISTAF SuperSeries looks to Myanmar

The Myanmar Sepaktakraw Federation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) to host the ISTAF SuperSeries MYANMAR 2014/15.

The contingent from Myanmar visited the offices of Asia Sports Ventures, in Singapore, home to the ISTAF Secretariat. The ISTAF SuperSeries MYANMAR 2014/15 will be held in Naypyitaw at the end of October 2014.

Following a short meeting regarding the hosting responsibilities, U Soe Naing, President of Myanmar Sepaktakraw Federation, and Dato’ Abdul Halim Kader, Secretary-General of ISTAF, signed the MOU cementing Naypyitaw, Myanmar, as the host for the first-leg of the ISTAF SuperSeries 2014/15.

Venu Ramadass, Chief Operating Officer of Asia Sports Ventures (ASV), sees it as a welcome step in ASV and ISTAF’s continued efforts to further enhance and develop the sport of sepaktakraw internationally.

“We are pleased to announce that the ISTAF SuperSeries 2014/15 Season will open with the ISS MYANMAR, to be held in the capital of Naypyitaw. The Myanmar Sepaktakraw Federation has the support of the Ministry of Sports, and we have absolute confidence in their ability to bring sepaktakraw to the next level,” said Dato Abdul Halim Kader.

“Myanmar has shown an excellent track record with Sepaktakraw, and we are less than a year after the 2013 SEA Games, which saw the stadium packed to capacity for the Sepaktakraw event,” added Dato’ Abdul Halim, when asked about his thoughts on the ISTAF SuperSeries in Myanmar.

U Soe Naing, speaking on behalf of the future host country, said; “We will hold the tournament in the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium, which also played host to Sepaktakraw at the 2013 SEA Games. The stadium was built specifically for sepaktakraw, and we are pleased to once again welcome the best sepaktakraw teams in the world to compete in Naypyitaw. Having seen such huge support for sepaktakraw at the SEA Games, we fully expect to see the stadium filled once again in October.”


He added; “Our Men’s and Women’s teams are currently working hard in the lead up to the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in September. With the ISTAF SuperSeries MYANMAR staging at the end of October, we hope to claim gold medal in front of our home fans.”

#ISTAF #ISS2014/15 

HAMIDIN: ASIA CHAMPIONS TROPHY SPRINGBOARD FOR ASIAN NATIONS

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) General-Secretary Dato’ Hamidin Mohd Amin paid glowing tribute to Frenz United Football Club for organising this second edition of the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy (ACT) U-16 2014 which has been a perfect springboard for Harimau Muda 'D' who emerged champions on Sunday.

“You have to give full credit to Frenz United Football Club for their vision and mission. They certainly deserve all the accolades. Participation in the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy has been a fantastic platform for all the teams from 12 nations, especially Harimau Muda ‘D’ and Frenz United Malaysia,” said Dato’ Hamidin.

He added that this is just the beginning of better things to come and hopes ACT 2015 will be further expanded to include more teams from the Asian region.

“Honestly, without the ACT 2014, I don’t think Harimau Muda ‘D’ would have played enough good quality matches in preparation for this week’s Asian Football Confederation Under-16 Championships. The team has gained so much exposure and confidence and must continue to build on this momentum heading to Bangkok for the AFC Under-16 tournament,” he added.
                                                           
Harimau Muda ‘D’ squad which was assembled in January 2013 after a nationwide selection a year earlier and most of the other competing nations and clubs had benefitted tremendously from the ACT 2014 which augurs well in the development of youth football in the region.

Dato’ Hamidin also heralded the determination of Harimau Muda ‘D’ in staging a late fight back against PVF Vietnam to lift the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy U-16 2014 at Frenz Stadium in Janda Baik, Pahang on Sunday night.

“I am extremely excited and happy for the team. They showed great character, fighting spirit, mental strength and true grit to overcome a very determined Vietnamese side that was bent on playing their best game in the final,” said Dato’ Hamidin who was among top FAM and Frenz United FC officials to witness the final in front of an estimated 3,000 fans.

Harimau Muda ‘D’ defeated PVF Vietnam 2-1 in the first-leg final in Ho Chi Minh City last week but the Malaysians won 5-4 on aggregate over the Vietnamese following a 3-3 draw in the second leg of the final in Janda Baik. Harimau Muda ‘D’ received US$50,000 (RM165,000) for their effort and PVF Vietnam took home US$25,000 (RM82,500).

Frenz United Malaysia finished third following a 3-1 win over defending champions Chonburi FC in the third-fourth playoff match. The Black Dragons pocketed US$15,000 (RM49,500) and Chonburi FC US$7,500 (RM24,750).

Dato’ Hamidin added that winning the ACT 2014 will provide the ideal morale booster platform for coach S. Balachandran’s Harimau Muda ‘D’ squad who will travel to Bangkok on Thursday for the AFC Under-16 Championship Final round.

The Malaysians are drawn in Group A of the tournament held from September 6-20 with the company of Thailand, Korea and Oman. They open their campaign against the hosts on Saturday. The top four teams will qualify for the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile.

The ACT 2014 has also unveiled a number of players who are of senior national team material in the future. Chonburi FC’s Sittichok Paso scored a total of 16 goals to win the Top Scorer award for the second consecutive year and will certainly lead the Thai firepower up front in the AFC Under-16 championships while more will be heard of PVF Vietnam’s Nguyen Vu Tin in the coming years.

On the home front, the ACT 2014 has developed the skills and confidence level of Harimau Muda ‘D’ strikers Kogisleswaran Raj (15 goals) and Najmuddin Samat, midfielder and skipper Shahrul Akmal Adnan who won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, defender Dinesh Rajasingam and Amirul Ashraf to name a few while Frenz United Malaysia players have also benefited tremendously from this experience.

Meanwhile, an ecstatic Harimau Muda ‘D’ coach Balachandran said his players are on Cloud Nine after Sunday’s come-from-behind-victory and is confident they are ready for the tough battle ahead in the AFC Under-16 Championships.

“It was clearly a fantastic performance from my players. The team could have scored early in the first half but we improved as the match progressed,” said Balachandran. “They will take a two-day rest before heading for Bangkok for the AFC Under-16 Championships on Thursday.”

“Our recipe for success is in the players’ determination to win. They are a much disciplined side and we must continue this form in the AFC Under-16 championships. All the teams are very strong and we are also of equal strength. We have to play to our strength to stay in the front,” added the head coach.

Balachandran has set a semi-finals target for Harimau Muda ‘D’ in the AFC U-16 championships which would qualify the team for the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile. Should the team meet his expectations, it will be the first time that a Malaysian youth team would have qualified for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup based on merit.

Malaysia gained automatic qualification as host of the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship held in six venues around the country.

#ACT2014 #HarimauMuda #FrenzUnited 

Aug 31, 2014

BLACK DRAGONS DOWN CHONBURI FC TO FINISH THIRD

Frenz United Malaysia defeated defending champions Chonburi FC of Thailand 3-1 in the second-leg of the third-fourth placing match in the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy Under-16 2014 at Frenz Stadium in Janda Baik, Pahang.

A brace from Muhammad Akhmar Haiqal (37th and 65th) and Muhammad Fareez(41st) sealed Black Dragons impressive victory by 3-1 aggregate after both teams played to a goalless draw in the first-leg encounter at Chonburi Stadium last week.

The hosts picked up a US$15,000 (RM49,500) cheque while Chonburi FC received US$7,500 ( RM24,750) in the tournament which boasts one of the most lucrative prize money ever offered in the region for an under-age competition. The total prize money on offer in ACT 2014 is US$100,000 (RM330,000).

In tomorrow’s second-leg final of the ACT 2014, S. Balachandran’s Harimau Muda D will take on PVF Vietnam at the same venue. The Young Tigers won 2-1 in the first-leg encounter in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

If the estimated 2,000 Frenz United Malaysia fans were expecting a stern test from the defending champions they were certainly in for a surprise as Suphakorn Noima’s boys were far from the side that showed so much of promise leading up to the semi-finals of the ACT 2014.

With 15-goal hero Sittichok Paso rested on the bench in the first half, they were evidently lacking in firepower upfront as skipper Saharat Sontisawat, strikers Chaiwat Weerakijphanich and Kritthanapong Paidaen did all they could except find the net.

On the opposite end, Black Dragons dominated much of the first half and had a first good opportunity in the 32nd minute when Mohamed Akhmar Haiqal’s cross from the left flank was met with a header by Aidel Nur Iman. The ball sailed past the outstretched goalkeeper Chakhon Philakhlang only to hit the bar.

Black Dragons, however, opened account five minutes later when they were awarded a penalty by match referee Rozyman Aidit Ibrahim from Brunei after Akhmar Haiqal was brought down by defender Autthagowit Jantod inside the box. Akhmar made no mistake from the spot to take his personal goal tally to eight in the tournament.

But there was more to come from the Black Dragons and the fans loved it. Four minutes before interval, striker Muhammad Fareez Jeffrey made it 2-0 with a header after picking a well-timed cross from Muhammad Hafizzudin from the left flank. The Thais had no answers to the quick-attack and aggressive play of the home team.

Chonburi FC returned in the second half with one major change – bringing on Sittichok for the injured Arthit Kangsangwet. The Thais took control of the match briefly but the hosts continued their bright start by going 3-0 up by the 65th minute through a grounder shot from Akhmar off a corner.

The Thais pulled a goal back in the 75th minute from a Sitichok penalty - his 16th goal in the tournament and making him a top candidate once again for the 2014 Top striker and Most Valuable Player awards.  He won both awards last year.

#ACT2014 #FrenzUnited #ChonburiFC 

BATTLE OF THE UNBEATABLES

The return leg of the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy Under-16 2014 between Harimau Muda ‘D’ and PVF Vietnam in Janda Baik, Pahang on Sunday is not all about two teams battling for the coveted trophy and US$50,000 winner’s purse.

It is, however, a classic story of two players whose games have developed by leaps and bounds in the ACT 2014 and are set to take centre stage when S. Balachandran’s Harimau Muda Under-16 and Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Chuong’s PVF Vietnam renew their title rivalry.

Young Tiger’s striker Kogileswaran Raj and PVF Vietnam’s Nguyen Vu Tin are two players who can transform the facade of the second leg final with just a moment of brilliance on the pitch.

Kogileswaran and Nguyen Vu have earned the reputation of not only being top notch strikers but the duo can also be counted on where others fail to deliver when the chips are down.

The Malaysian has scored 14 goals in the tournament – one short of Chonburi FC’s leading goal poacher Sittichok Paso, while Nguyen Vu has found the net 12 times in 11 matches.

The Young Tigers defeated the Vietnamese 2-1 in the first-leg final at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, with Kogileswaran putting the visitors ahead with a 39th minute penalty but Le Ngoc Bao cancelled it with a 72nd minute equaliser before Muhammad Najmuddin Samat snatched the winner against the run of play three minutes later.

Though Harimau Muda Under-16 returned home with a comfortable 2-1 first leg win over the Vietnamese, it is still too early for the fireworks and celebrations as far as coach Balachandran is concerned.

“Yes, I am extremely excited with our win in Vietnam but we cannot afford to be very comfortable with the 2-1 advantage. PVF Vietnam will be under pressure to score two goals at Janda Baik to pull away,” said Balachandran at a pre-final press conference in Kelana Jaya.

“And this is where our defenders must be focused and play hard to deny them of any opportunity,” he added.

“You just never know as anything can happen. We have always been playing an attacking game for the past few months and will maintain this system and rhythm against PVF Vietnam,” he said, adding that the midfield and attacking machinery in the squad have been having cordial understanding.

A win on Sunday will also be a timely boost for the Harimau Muda ‘D’ in the preparation for the upcoming Asian Football Confederation Under-16 championships in Bangkok next month. The top four teams will earn qualification to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile.

PVF Vietnam assistant head coach Ha Vuong Ngau Nai heralded his team’s perseverance against the Malaysians and warned his rivals that the battle is far from over yet.

“We have come here having learned from our mistakes back home in the first leg final,” said Ha Vuong. “We believe we can improve in our return match and we are looking forward towards it.”

The tournament boasts one of the most lucrative prize money ever offered in the region for an under-age competition. The total prize money on offer for the tournament is US$100,000. The winner will receive US$50,000, runners-up US$25,000, third and fourth-placed team US$15,000 and US$7,500 respectively and individual awards of Most Valuable Player will receive US$1,500 and Top Scorer will receive US$1,000. 

#FrenzUnited #ACT2014 #HarimauMuda 

Aug 26, 2014

HARIMAU MUDA STUN PVF VIETNAM IN FIRST-LEG FINAL

Coach S. Balachandran’s Harimau Muda secured a 2-1 victory over PVF Vietnam in the first leg final of the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy U-16 2014 at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
  
The young tigers and PVF Vietnam will renew their title rivalry in the return leg match at Frenz Stadium in Janda Baik, Pahang this Sunday.

“I'm satisfied with this score since we are playing in Vietnam. I would like to congratulate my boys for a great job here,” said Balachandran, adding that they will now aim to score more goals back home.

“‎In the first half, PVF Vietnam played a defensive game but we managed to find the space to score the opening goal. I was rather worried about the pitch condition but things got better when the water receded,” he said.

The kick-off was earlier delayed for an hour following a heavy downpour and when play got underway there was little the Malaysians could do on a water logged pitch.

On the opposite end, the Vietnamese seem to have adapted fast and showed glimpses of brilliance on the wet pitch as they went about firing on all cylinders.

Striker Pham Trong Hua squandered two chances that came his way, the first in the third minute when his header went wide after goalkeeper Muhd Asri Muhammad failed to latch onto the ball, and the second five minute later when he shot into the side net.

The young tigers, however, shrugged off the early scare by showing plenty of grit as they battled back to silence the estimated 500 home fans with a penalty in the 39th minute after midfielder Najib Abdullah was brought down inside the penalty box by defender Le Thanh Phong.

Striker Kogileswaran Raj packed enough power from the spot to send goalkeeper Phan Van Bieu the wrong way for Harimau Muda Under-16’s opening goal and his 14th in the tournament as the Malaysians grabbed a 1-0 half time lead.

The Vietnamese put that disappointment behind in the second half and rocked the Malaysians confidence with a Le Ngoc Bao header in the 71st minute after a receiving a cross from Thanh Phong from the right flack.

But that joy only short-lived just as it erupted into wild celebrations much earlier as Harimau Muda U-16 responded immediately three minutes later through Muhammad Najmuddin Samat who cleverly maneuvered his way past an onrushing goalkeeper Van Bieu to put the ball into goal and in the process seal the game 2-1 in favour of the visitors.

PVF Vietnam tried all they could in the remaining minutes in search for the equalizer but was denied by the Malaysian defenders bent on returning home with this slim victory.

Meanwhile, defending champions Chonburi FC and Frenz United Malaysia played to a goalless draw in the first leg of their third-fourth placing match at the Chonburi Stadium on Sunday.


The return leg match will be played on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at Frenz Stadium (Kick-off time 4.30pm).

#ACT2014 #FrenzUnited 

YOUNG TIGERS AIM TO GAIN POSITIVE RESULT

After convincingly ending defending champions Chonburi FC’s reign, Harimau Muda U-16 go into tomorrow’s first-leg final of the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy Under-16 2014 against PVF Vietnam looking to seize the opportunity at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.

Although PVF Vietnam has not been defeated at home in the competition, Harimau Muda Coach S. Balachandran strongly believes his players have the pedigree, character and discipline to overcome the pressure and leave with a positive result.

“First of all I would like to thank Frenz United for organising this big competition for the Under-16 boys which has been a good platform to gain experience and improve their skills,” said Balachandran at a pre-match press conference which was also attended by PVF Vietnam head coach Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Chuong, captain Tran Van Hoa and his Harimau Muda Under-16 compatriot, Mohd Shahrul Akmal in Ho Chi Minh City.

“It is a good opportunity for my boys as well for them (PVF Vietnam) for the exposure and also prepare for the forthcoming AFC Under-16 Championships in Bangkok."

He added that the players have been together for 18 months and played in total 35 international matches this year. In the last 18 months, they have shown tremendous improvements with more attacking games and high scoring results. 

For the record, Harimau Muda U-16 suffered a 2-1 defeat against PVF Vietnam in the first round of their group stage match played at the same venue. However, in an astonishing reversal of fortunes, the Malaysians cruised through 3-0 at Janda Baik in their second round encounter.

"We lost 2-1 to PVF Vietnam in group stage because it was played during the Fasting month. Most of my players were fasting and it was really a hot season in Ho Chi Minh City. My game tempo was slow and the players got tired very fast,” said Balachandran.

“I can honestly say the boys are all fired up for the final and we will adopt the same game-style in our victory over Chonburi FC (6-1 aggregate) when we play PVF Vietnam tomorrow. We have come to win and want to return home with the pressure on them instead,” he added.
  
Striker Kogisleswaran Raj, who took the brunt of the knocks and kicks against Chonburi FC in a highly-tensed second-leg semi-finals tie last week, is back on his feet to lead the charge together with Muhammad Najmuddin Samat, Muhammad Zulkahiri Mohd and skipper Mohd Shahrul Akmal who were all instrumental in Harimau Muda’s 6-1 aggregate win over Chonburi FC.

Young tiger’s skipper, Shahrul Akmal, quipped: "We will play our best with the aim to score more goals and return home with a win. We will definitely go all out.”

Meanwhile, PVF Vietnam head coach Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Chuong said the mood in the Vietnamese camp is equally vibrant with high expectations following their superb run.

“It's big competition for my Under-16 boys.  We have seen a big improvement from the players compared to last year. The experience has been great,” added Nguyen Phuc.

“We are very excited to play Harimau Muda once again but this time we meet in the final. It is a very different situation now compared to the last time we met but I believe the pressure is on both teams to win here,” said Nguyen, through an interpreter.

The Vietnamese, firing on all-cylinders, will place much hopes on their top scorer Nguyen Vu Tin who scored a hat-trick against Frenz United Malaysia in the first-leg semi-finals in Ho Chi Minh City to get the goals against the young tigers.


However, Nguyen Phuc dismissed this by saying: “Every player in our team is capable of scoring so it’s not all about just Vu Tin. We have a good team and are looking forward to this tie which should be very exciting.”

#ACT2014 #FrenzUnited