Malaysia end 12-year wait to beat Thailand for gold in goalball
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 ― The men’s goalball team created history by dethroning defending champion Thailand 9-5 to enable the national anthem Negaraku to be played once again, albeit the last time, when the final ended at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre here today.
Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of the Malaysian players, who went in as underdogs against the indomitable Thais who were dominant in the sport since 2005.
The gold medal came after a 12-year wait as the Malaysians have for long played second fiddle to the Thais in five previous editions.
For the record, goalball players compete with their eyes covered with a piece of cloth, relying solely on their hearing senses to attack and defend. It was also the 90th and last gold won by the Malaysian contingent in the Games before 9th Asean Para Games comes to a close.
The defeat, however, did not go down too well with the Thais who were in a state of daze and shock. All hopes rested on the shoulders of Husnaini Samsudin, Muhammad Amirul, Muhammad Haiqal, Muhammad Hasmawi and Muhammad Nor Amin to ‘dismantle’ the growing confidence in the Thai camp led by Chonlathi Sukchum, Danuporn Suksom, Kitsada Thanyawanitphong, Noppadon Poosrisom, Siwarin Phonphirun and Tanapong Wangthongjitr and they did it in style, winning the gold medal after an hour’s duel.
Muhammad Amirul and Muhammad Haiqal scored early goals as the host led 5-2 in the first half but Noppadon Poosrisom and Siwarin Phonphirun closed the gap upon resumption and at the final, it was the Malaysians who rejoiced with a 9-5 victory.
In the playoff for the bronze medal, Laos defeated Indonesia 17-12.
Malaysia had lost to Thailand in the final at the 2005 APG (Manila, Philippines), 2007 (Korat, Thailand), 2011 (Palembang, Indonesia), 2014 (Myanmar)and 2015 (Singapore).
According to head coach Abdul Karim Raham who is a teacher at Sekolah Menengan Pendidikan Khas Setapak, today’s success was expected because the players were determined to avenge the previous defeats.
“The players spent a lot of time in training to ensure they can match the might of the Thais. I as the captain had to take leave for five months to undergo training. But all the sacrifices were worth,” said Husnaini Samsudin. ― Bernama