By Rangi Akbar
Sri Lanka has been grouped with Cambodia, Germany, Japan, Oman and Vietnam for the first Sepaktakraw World Cup which gets underway on 20 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and ends on 24 July.
At a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on 29 June, the International Sepaktakraw Association and the Malaysian Sepaktakraw Association, together with the Malaysian Deputy Sports Minister, Dato’ Razali Ibrahim, formally unveiled the new Men’s and Women’s World Cup trophies for the 2011 ISTAF Sepaktakraw World Cup.
With just about three weeks left until the start of the competition, a record-breaking total of 36 men’s and women’s teams from the following 24 countries will be competing for the Men’s and Women’s World Champion titles: They are Group A – Australia, China, Iran, Korea, Pakistan and Switzerland. Group B – Brunei, Chinese Taipei, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Group C – Bangladesh, France, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore and USA.
“A total of 24 men’s and 12 women’s teams from 24 countries will be competing in the first World Cup.
This is truly a landmark for the sport, surpassing by far even the annual King’s Cup in Thailand,” said ISTAF Director-General Abdul Halim Kader BBM.
“This is the single biggest tournament ever to be staged in the entire history of Sepaktakraw and one which is set to propel the sport onto the world stage.”
Hot favourites include Thailand which is sending its 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games gold medallist squad, and host country Malaysia, but the focus will also be on non-Asian teams like Australia and Switzerland, and fast-rising countries like India and Asian Games silver medallist Korea, which will look, at the very least, to secure a coveted place in the ISTAF Super Series tournaments on the back of a strong performance in Kuala Lumpur.