Nov 6, 2006

Gold hopes lifted with duo's return

THE Malaysian sepaktakraw squad to the Asian Games have been given aboost with the return of Mohd Futra Abdul Ghani and Mohd Normanizam. The duo, together with Mohammad Zulkarnain, are Malaysia's best bets towin a gold medal in the inter-regu event in Doha. According to national sepaktakraw team manager DSP Idris Karim the duowere initially doubtful of making the trip after both suffered ankleinjuries. However, Idris said the duo have now been given the all-clear bydoctors from the National Sports Institute (NSI). "We are glad that Mohd Futra and Mohd Normanizam have been given thegreen light to play, even though earlier they had been complaining ofpain," said Idris in a telephone interview from Langkawi where the teamare undergoing their final phase of training. Futra, Normanizam and Zulkarnian are best remembered for endingMalaysia's 12-year Sea Games gold drought in last year's Manila Games. "Preparations are going on well and we will be returning to KualaLumpur on Nov 13. "After that, the players will undergo medical screening and anti-dopingtests just before we leave for Doha on Nov 18." Mohd Normanizam, who plays as a 'tekong' (server) is the only member inthe 15-member squad who can execute the 'sepak kuda' with an ace. Malaysia will be competing for three of the six gold medals on offer inDoha - the men's team, inter-regu and doubles. The last time Malaysia won gold at the Asian Games was in Hiroshima in1994. Then, Malaysia picked up two gold medals via the team andinter-regu. In Busan four years ago, Malaysia won a silver in the team event and abronze in the inter-regu - Christopher Raj

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