Fazzrudin (right) and Hamada pose with a Kuching FA scarf.
KUCHING: Kuching FA have reached new heights by qualifying for the Malaysia Cup for the first time this year in their first season in the Premier League.
The team earned a promotion to the national second-tier league after finishing second in the M3 League last season.
Kuching FA defeated Johor Darul Takzim II 2-1 at home on Oct 4 to guarantee a top-eight finish in the standings and qualified for the nation’s oldest cup tournament.
They still have one more league game to play against Kuala Lumpur, which was postponed early this month and is expected to take place before the Malaysia Cup kicks off on Oct 25.
Yakult (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd serves as one of the sponsors for Kuching FA and the company, known for its world-leading probiotic drink, has formed a unique collaboration with the team.
Its managing director Hiroshi Hamada played a key role in bringing Japanese head coach Akira Higashiyama and import players Yuta Suzuki and Yuuki Tanigawa into the team last year.
“I’d like to express my warmest congratulations to the team for securing a seat to compete in the Malaysia Cup so soon. They showed great teamwork and fighting spirit.
“In just five years, the team has moved from playing in amateur league to qualifying for the Malaysia Cup, which is a great achievement to be proud of,” he said in a statement.
Besides the signings of the head coach and import players, Yakult has also been providing its probiotic drinks to the Kuching FA players on daily basis.
“I hope that through the continuous consumption of Yakult probiotic drinks, it helps to improve the players’ immune system and reduce the risk of infections, especially during this (Covid-19) pandemic,” said Hamada.
Kuching FA president Fazzrudin Abdul Rahman also expressed his excitement ahead of their first-ever Malaysia Cup campaign.
“We were very happy and excited when we qualified for Malaysia Cup. Our target was to maintain in the Premier League and qualify for Malaysia Cup,” he said.
The Malaysian League (M-League) was suspended on March 16 due to the Covid-19 outbreak and resumed on Aug 26.
Fazzrudin said the team had a tough time ahead of the restart after five of their players were tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Our team needed to be quarantined for 14 days without training just before the restart of the season, which really made it difficult for us.
“But we faced it as one big family and really worked hard after the first two matches. This shows that if each and every one of us – the association, management, coaching staff, players and fans – focus and work hard with the task given, the possibilities are endless and we can achieve greater heights,” he said.
The Tupong assemblyman expressed his gratitude to Yakult and Hamada for their continuous support and assistance.
“Yakult is more than just a sponsor, they are our partners in this journey and we look forward to their continued support in the years ahead.
Fazzrudin is also concerned over the pandemic situation in the country which is entering the third wave of infections.
“So we are being extra careful, even to the extent ensuring each player consumes Yakult everyday,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yakult is calling upon all Sarawakians to show support to the team.
Yakult also introduced a battle cry ‘Gambatte Kuching FA!’ – a Japanese phrase for ‘Go for it Kuching FA!’ – to lift the spirit of the players during the Malaysia Cup campaign.
Supporters are also encouraged to hashtag #gambattekuchingFA in their social media postings as a gesture of support.
“While many might still not be able to relate drinking probiotics drink like Yakult with sports, but there are scientific studies conducted by Prof Michael Gleeson from University of Loughborough and Assoc Prof Dr Mahenderan Appukutty from Faculty of Sports Science and Recreation, University Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam to show the importance of consuming probiotics during sports and when engaging in high intensity physical activities,” said Hamada.
“You would be surprised to know that Yakult has been shown to reduce the risk of infections and support mental health of athletes. For our national athletes, we hope that with the Yakult probiotic supplementation, it will able to keep their health in optimum conditions and Malaysia can excel further in the sports field,” he added.
Yakult is the official probiotic drink of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and the National Sports Institute (ISN).
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