KORAT, Dec 5 (Bernama) -- Malaysia came close to a place in the final of the SEA Games women's team table tennis event Wednesday but they were just not good enough to pull it off.
In the end, they had to settle for the bronze after going down 2-3 to Thailand in their semi-final clash at the Convention Centre of the Klang Shopping Mall here, leaving the Thais to make their date with defending champion Singapore in the final.
Malaysia had harboured hopes of toppling the Thais today and adopted the strategy of reshuffling their line-up. Sarawak's Chiu Soo Jin, third-ranked, was slotted into the first singles instead and the No. 1 Beh Lee Wei came in at second singles with Ng Sock Khim at No 3.
The game plan was to sacrifice Soo Jin and count on Lee Wei to deliver two points and Sock Khim the other needed to go through.
It worked initially. Soo Jin lost her match to the Thai No 1 Nanthana Kongwong while Lee Wei won hers against Anisara Muangsuk followed by Sock Khim, giving Malaysia a 2-1 lead with her win over Sutthilux Atanaprayoon.
All hopes were on Lee Wei to deliver the winning point but the Kedah-born paddler found it hard against her Thai opponent and Malaysia had to rely on Soo Jin to clinch the third and winning point.
It was a tall order as Soo Jin was soundly beaten by Anisara and the Thais are in the final.
"I must admit that the Thais were a better side. We have two good singles players but we need another one to balance our strength. Still, the girls fought so hard and I am proud of them.
"We are looking at the next SEA Games in 2009 and by then I believe we will be better prepared," said team manager Soong Poh Wah.
In the other semi-finals, Singapore, the defending champion, beat Vietnam 3-0 while in the men'semi-finals, Singapore beat Indonesia 3-1 and Thailand overcame defending champion Vietnam 3-1.