Apr 15, 2013


Backed by the might of Datuk Lee Chong Wei, and the strong support from Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah Mansor, Malaysia lifted the second edition of the Axiata Cup with a 3-1 demolition of Thailand at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras today.

The World No 1 answered the clarion call by the BA of Malaysia and National singles head coach Rashid Sidek on the eve of the final clash, just 48 hours after becoming a father with the birth of his son Kingston Lee.

His return to help the nation subdue the formidable Thais, who had dethroned defending champions Indonesia in the semifinals, was greeted by thunderous applause from more than 3,000 fans who had packed the stadium earlier.

Malaysia walked away with the winner’s cheque of US$400,000 which was presented by the wife of the Prime Minister. Thailand picked up US$200,000 while All-Star Asia, who had earlier in the day flayed Indonesia 3-1, won the third prize worth US$150,000. The Indonesians settled for US$100,000 after producing one of their worst performances in recent times.

“I wanted to help the team in their final match, and make it special for the fans too,” said Chong Wei during the post match press conference. “Now, I will take a short break and concentrate on fatherhood before preparing for the Sudirman Cup. I am not so sure about competing in the India Open. I will discuss it with my coaches.”

Rashid said the panel of coaches had decided that Malaysia stands a better chance of defeating Thailand with the presence of Chong Wei in the team though he believe that Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng are capable of weathering the storm.

“It was a tactical move and with Chong Wei around we were confident of taking the men’s singles, mixed doubles and men’s doubles. This has been a great moment for us despite going through some tough moments in the earlier rounds.” said Rashid.

The atmosphere turned out to be electrifying from the very beginning when Sonia Cheah took to the court against All-England runners-up and three-time World Junior champion Ratchanok Inthanon. The Malaysian, who turns 20 in June, however, could not match the speed and experience of the Thai and went down 16-21.

In the second game, Ratchanok, ranked World No 8, proved her mettle and courtplay superiority with overhead smashes and deceptive netplay and rattled Sonia en route to a 21-17 victory, giving Thailand the much needed confident start.

With the Thais going 1-0 up, it was now left to the mixed-doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying to pacify the fans that were restless following Sonia’s defeat. The World No 5, however, were in their element against Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam as they cruised to a 21-16, 21-15 victory to level the scoreline 1-1.

The fans were by now already clamouring for Chong Wei to shut out the Thais in this crucial men’s singles tie, the third match of the night, against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk whom he had last beaten at the semi-finals stage of this year’s All-England championships.

Roared on by the fans, Chong Wei rocked the stadium with his typical brand of net play and leaping smashes to lead 11-7 at the mid game break, and later leading 17-9 with that serious intent to win the match. He eventually took the first game 21-12.

In the second game, Chong Wei led 11-9 in midgame break and then rolled seven straight points to take a 17-9 lead. But the determined Thai, not wanting to admit defeat, pulled back nine points but could not sustain the pace enabling Chong Wei to win 21-18, and ensuring a 2-1 win in Malaysia's favour.

Going into the final match of the night – the men’s doubles with a 2-1 overall lead over Thailand, and a step closer to winning the Axiata Cup, the World No 2 pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong easily brushed aside Boonsak Ponsana-Songphon Anugritayawon 21-10 in the first game and sealed the second 21-17 .

Meanwhile, the All-Star Asia-Indonesia tie turned out to be a one-sided affair, with the Indonesians down to 2-1at the end of the mixed doubles event. It was the deciding men's doubles that proved to be the turning point when All-Star Asia’s Bao Chun Lai-Zheng Bao won the first game 21-12 against Hendra Setiawan-Mohamad Ahsan.

However, the much dispirited Indonesia squad conceded defeat when Ahsan complained of a back injury and could not resume the match.

Indonesia’s team manager Herry I.P expressed his dismay at the overall performance of his players who came to Kuala Lumpur expecting to defend the title without much faze.

“It was a disappointing end to a disappointing tournament. I expected more from the players but they were not in the best of form. Many of them peaked for the All-England and are still recovering. I expect them to be back at their best for next month’s Sudirman Cup.” He said.

Indonesia's surprise 3-0 defeat to Thailand in Saturday’s semi-finals was the added motivation the players needed when they came up against each other this afternoon. But nothing went right for them from the very start.

Taiwanese Tai Tzu Ying was stretched by Lindaweni Fanetri in the opening women’s singles before winning 21-18, 22-20, her second victory over the Indonesian since the Chinese Taipei Open last year.

In the men’s singles, London Olympics bronze medalist Lee Hyun Il's victory over Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, ranked World No 27, was a double elation for the South Korean, who celebrates his 33rd birthday on Wednesday, and his wife, You Here Sook, and daughter Lee Choe Won were amongst the spectators.

For someone, who stayed away from high level competitive badminton matches since the London Olympics, the left-handed Lee's performance earned a thunderous applause after he trounced Dionysius 21-19, 16-21, 21-6.

The Indonesians pulled a point back in the mixed doubles through Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto who won 16-21, 21-16, 21-15 over Tarun Kona-Ashwini Ponnappa. The Indian pair put up a determined display but eventually unforced errors and a far experienced Indonesian pair saw their defeat.

Results – Final: Malaysia 3 Thailand 1: Sonia Cheah lost to Ratchanok Inthanon 16-21, 17-21; Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying bt Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam 21-16, 21-15; Lee Chong Wei bt Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-12; 21-18; Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong bt Boonsak Ponsana-Songphon Anugritayawon 21-10, 21-17.

Third-Fourth playoff - All-Star Asia 3 Indonesia 1: Tai Tzu Ying (Tai) bt Lindaweni Fanerti 21-18, 22-20; Lee Hyun Il (Kor) bt Dionysius Hayum Rumbaka 21-19, 16-21, 21-6; Tarun Kona-Ashwini Ponnappa (Ind) lost to Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto 21-16, 16-21, 21-15; Bao Chun Lai-Zheng Bao (Chi) bt Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan 21-12 (rdt).

Final Standings: 1 Malaysia, 2 Thailand, 3 All-Star Asia, 4 Indonesia, 5 All-Star Europe, 6 Singapore, 7 Vietnam, 8 Philippines.

Apr 13, 2013


After almost a two-month search, the Axiata Cup 2013 “Up Your Game” Challenge, held in line with the world’s richest badminton team event in Surabaya (Indonesia), and Kuala Lumpur, has found three worthy winners.

The overall champion is Joaan Foo Pui Yan, whose video entry titled ‘Lean on Me’ – Xpression (Up your game Malaysia), was adjudged the best among the entries received. She received the winner’s purse of RM5, 000.

Mufrizal Akmal Zaenal Abidin came in second for his entry titled ‘Rise up your spirit and up your game’ and received
ed a cheque for RM3,000 while Harbinder Singh s/o Waldev Singh came in third for his entry ‘Dj herb Axiata Cup’. Harbinder wins RM1, 500.

The prizes were presented to the winners by Andy Chong Yee Bin, Axiata Group’s Senior Vice-President and Head Group Marketing and Strategic Initiatives. Also present at the event were Ainul Baizura Ali, Axiata Group’s Assistant Vice-President, and, James White, Total Sports Asia’s Vice-President Business Development.

All the winners will also be treated to an exclusive ‘VIP experience’ to attend the semi-finals and final of the Axiata Cup on Saturday and Sunday respectively at the Cheras Badminton Stadium

Entries for the ‘Up Your Game’ Challenge competition started in February and submissions ended on March 25. However, the organiser’s shortlisted 10 finalists from the overwhelming hundreds of entries received before the three winners were identified.

The contest called on video submissions for creative and original ideas to show the love for the sport of badminton and best injects the elements that suit the theme of “Up Your Game’ in badminton.

The three winnings entries and all contest video submissions can be viewed at the content page on www.axiatacup.tv.

Apr 12, 2013

Dato’ Hamidin the choice as FAM General-Secretary

Dato’ Hamidin Hj Mohd Amin might be appointed as the new general-secretary of the national football governing body, replacing Dato’ Azzuddin Ahmad who will step down from his current position on May 1.

According to reliable sources within the hallowed walls of FAM, the choice of appointing Hamidin comes with certain conditions - he has to resign from all other positions in FAM, the FA of Selangor.

Apart from being a vice-president of the FAM, Hamidin is also the competitions committee chairman, general-secretary of Selangor FA, and, also a member of the AFC Standing Committee.

It is reliable learned that FAM president His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Shah is in favour of Hamidin as the choice of candidate for the general-secretary.

Azzuddin, who has decided to step down from the post on May 1 after serving FAM as general-secretary since 2007, will replace Datuk Seri Paul Mony Samuel as the AFF secretary-general and starts his duties on June 1.

Should Hamidin accepts the job, he faces a heavy task of pacifying affiliates and football administrators who want to abolish the infamous “Article 88’ which has hurt the feelings of all those who have become ‘victims’ of it and faced suspensions.

Sultan Ahmad Shah, however, has warned about the implications if Article 88 is abolished but gave his support for its review. He said that "Article 88’ is an important regulation and if it is abolished, there will be no legal limits to comments.

Apr 1, 2013

BABAK kedua musim ujian sebenar buat ATM,

MEMASUKI babak kedua musim Liga Super 2013, pendatang baru, Angkatan Tentera Malaysia seharusnya mampu mengukir senyuman melihatkan kedudukan mereka di tempat keempat, dipisahkan dua mata dengan pendahulu, Lions XII selepas 11 perlawanan.
Namun ATM boleh dimaafkan sekiranya menyimpan sedikit rasa terkilan dengan perjalanan musim mereka sehingga kini yang ditentukan oleh urusan di luar padang secara khususnya, bilik mesyuarat jawatankuasa tatatertib Persatuan Bola Sepak (FAM) dan bukannya aksi di atas padang.
Berdepan kehilangan empat pemain kerana penggantungan atas pembabitan mereka di dalam insiden kontroversi 25 Januari lalu, ATM turun menentang Kelantan tanpa tiga lagi tonggak, Norfazly Alias berikutan kecederaan tulang pipi dan K Reuben dan Rezal Zambery Yahya yang terlepas susulan penggantungan automatik (tiga kad kuning).
Namun, ia tidak menghalang ATM untuk menampilkan aksi bersemangat untuk bangkit daripada ketinggalan dua gol sebelum kelekaan pada saat terakhir membuka ruang buat pelawat mencuri tiga mata penuh menerusi Nor Farhan Mohamad.
Pujian seharusnya tetap diberikan kepada ATM yang kini perlu mengharungi tempoh getir untuk sekurang-kurangnya satu perlawanan lagi menentang Kelantan pada 13 April sebelum  menyambut kembali kepulangan Shukor Adan.
Bagi G Jeevananthan dan R Surendran mereka perlu menunggu sehingga akhir perlawanan menentang Lions XII pada 20 April untuk kembali ke pangkuan rakan sepasukan lain.
Pertahanan kiri, Fitri Omar, perlu menunggu lebih lama dengan bekas pemenang Kasut Emas yang beralih posisi ke bahagian bawah terpaksa menunggu sebelum sebelum menamatkan tempoh penggantungan empat perlawanan untuk berdepan T-Team pada 3 Mei.
Di sebalik latar belakang isu penggantungan ini, ia seharusnya tidak membayangi lakaran cemerlang ATM yang beraksi pada musim pertama di pentas elit domestik berikutan kejayaan the Gladiators menjulang gelaran Liga Perdana musim lalu.
Kehilangan tiga tonggak utama pada awal musim, Aidil Zafuan Abd Radzak, Zaquan Adha dan Azmi Muslim yang berpindah ke Johor Darul Takzim, tidak ramai yang memberikan peluang kepada ATM untuk mencabar kedudukan pasukan elit yang lain diketuai barisan berbelanja besar, JDT, kuasa baru, Kelantan dan tradisi, Selangor dan Singapura.
Namun, perkara sebaliknya berlaku dengan ketua pasukan, Hairuddin Omar dan rakan-rakan membuktikan mereka setanding dengan yang terbaik apabila meletakkan diri pada tampuk penguasaan pada perlawanan ketujuh menerusi kemenangan 2-0 ke atas Selangor.
Dikritik kerana mensia-siakan beberapa peluang keemasan pada aksi pembukaan menentang Lions XII, penyerang tinggi lampai dari St Vincent & Grenadines, Marlon Alex James bangkit pada 10 perlawanan berikutnya untuk membuktikan bahawa dia masih belum kehilangan bisanya apabila membedil 11 gol untuk bergelar pendahulu Kasut Emas.
Sayangnya, kehebatan Marlon gagal diikuti rakan sepasukannya dengan 8 gol memisahkannya dengan penjaring gol kedua terbanyak, Shukor Adan disusuli Christie Jayaseelan (2 gol) yang hanya kembali daripada kecederaan panjang pra-musim pada pertemuan menentang Terengganu manakala lima pemain lain, masing-masing menjaringkan satu gol.
Tiada dalam senarai, Hai-O yang masih menantikan gol pertamanya dengan penjaring kedua terbanyak musim lalu dengan 17 gol itu tidak bernasib baik di depan gawang. Kini seluruh pasukan mengharapkan sentuhan Hai-O akan kembali menjulang ATM pada babak kedua musim dalam mengharungi tempoh ujian yang penuh dengan badai dan ranjau berliku ini.

Penjaring ATM dalam Liga Super

Marlon Alex James 11
Shukor Adan 3
Christie Jayaseelan 2
Rezal Zambery Yahya 1
Amiridzwan Taj  Tajudin  1
Irwan Fadly Idrus 1
Nor Fazly Alias 1
Bruno Sebastian Martelotto 1