KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The action in the 29th SEA Games kicks off tomorrow ahead of the official 12 day biennial sports extravaganza with the men’s football and netball competitions.
In advance of the Aug 19 Games opening, the tough tussle for the coveted men’s football gold opens with Myanmar taking on Singapore in a Group A match at the Selayang Stadium at 4pm followed by a similar group clash between host Malaysia and Brunei at 8.45pm over at the Shah Alam Stadium.
National coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, who announced his 20 players yesterday, has asked fans to turn up in full force to support the young Under-22 team which must first clinch the top two spots in the group to advance into the semifinals.
Games defending champions Thailand share Group B with Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Timor Leste and the Philippines.
The netball competition, a gold medal prospect for Malaysia, gets underway at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara. The host, which emerged Asian champions last year, step into the arena against Thailand in the preliminary round while Brunei meet Singapore in the other match of the day.
The Games returns to Kuala Lumpur after 16 years with 404 gold up for grabs in 38 sports. Fourteen gold would be decided by the eve of the opening ceremony — two in open water swimming, three in synchronised swimming, four in sepak takraw including in the Myanmar traditional game called chinlone played with a rattan ball by six players in a circle, and five in archery.
The first batch of golds will be awarded on Wednesday with four at stake — two each in compound archery and chinlone.
Malaysia are favoured to lift the first gold of the Games from the chinlone event 3 contest featuring Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei that will be decided by lunchtime at the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium. The event 2 gold is scheduled in the evening eyed by Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos and Thailand.
In the compound archery battle, Malaysia’s golden girl Fatin Nurfatehah Mat Salleh defends the women’s individual title at the National Sports Council range in the evening. Fatin returned from the last outing in Singapore with three golds with the other two from the women’s team and mixed team compound.
Malaysia have declared a target of 111 golds which would make them the overall champions if delivered.
The other participating countries are Thailand, which topped the 2015 Games with 95 gold medals, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste. — Bernama