Malaysia wins men’s triples gold to end Thai dominance

The win makes up for the disappointment of the national women’s trio


NEW CLARK CITY • The national petanque squad started their 30th SEA Games campaign on the right footing by snatching the men’s triples gold yesterday.

Malaysia’s success in the opening event ended the domination of Thailand, who won the men’s triples gold at the Singapore Games in 2015 and Kuala Lumpur edition in 2017.

The trio of Muhammad Hafizuddin Mat Daud, Syed Akmal Fikri Syed Ali and Saiful Bahri Musmin battled for almost three hours before beating Thailand’s Wanchaloem Srimueang, Piyabut Chamchoi and Panu Roeksanit 13-11 at the CDC Lot in front of the Royce Hotel and Casino.

The Malaysians trailed 4-9 before drawing level at 11-11. Muhammad Hafizuddin then emerged as the hero by scoring two points to give Malaysia the first gold in petanque.

The win made up for the disappointment of the national women’s trio, who earlier lost 3-14 to Cambodia in the women’s triples final.

Coach Syed Ali Syed Akil was thrilled by Malaysia’s golden start, as their last podium finish in the event was a bronze in 2015 in Singapore.

He said the key to their success were teamwork and determination.

“I was surprised by their excellent performance, and I believed they could bounce back despite trailing 4-9.

“I also told my son (Syed Akmal Fikri) not to give up as I believed he could do his best,” said Syed Ali.

Syed Akmal Fikri was just as excited over the win after having failed in his second attempt in 2015.

Malaysia will also meet Thailand in the men’s and women’s doubles semi-finals after clearing the qualifying rounds yesterday.