Cerebral Palsy footballers face a tough battle in 7-aside

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Some impressive results in friendly matches plus the “guts and determination” to succeed has given the Malaysian Cerebral Palsy Football Association hope of at least reaching the final in the 9th  Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The 7-aside tournament scheduled from Sept 18-22 at Field C of the National Sports Institute in Bukit Jalil will see hosts Malaysia up against defending champions Thailand, Myanmar who won the silver medal at the last Para Games, Singapore (bronze), Indonesia and newcomers Cambodia.

Head coach Asnan Zuki said reaching the final comes with rewards – a place in the Asian Para Games next year and the AFC Championships in 2019 – and this is going to drive the team to scale greater heights.

“We have only been training at the Paralympic Sports Complex in Kampung Pandan and did not participate in any international tournaments. But I believe we have prepared a team to the best of abilities,” said Asnan.

Asnan thanked teams from S.K. Seri Setia Kuchai Lama, Universiti Malaya and the Royal Selangor Club U18 team for giving his team proper training sessions plus friendly matches in their preparations towards the Games.

“We played 12 friendly matches with able bodied teams. Although it was a struggle at the start the boys progressed well along the way…winning four of their last five matches.

“This is very encouraging and has raised our hopes and ambitions. I believe they have gelled as a team,” added Asnan.

In 2014, the Malaysians bagged the bronze in their Asean Para Games debut in Nay Pyi Daw, Myanmar.

However, in the last edition in 2015 hosts Singapore won the bronze with a 2-1 win over Malaysia in the playoff.

It was a bitter pill to swallow but Malaysia hope to thrive on home-ground advantage this time around. BY ALVIN OH 

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