The professionals will not be forgotten or left out of the national team as Malaysia embark on a new journey to beef up its team for the Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark (May 16-24) after a highly successful outing in the Badminton Asia Manila Team Championships which ended in Manila on Sunday.
Badminton Association of Malaysia coaching director Wong Choong Hann said those who ”we feel can plug the weaknesses and give more balance” will definitely be called up and feature in the team.
For the first, Malaysia’s men’s and women’s teams qualified for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals on merit after reaching the semi-finals in both categories.
The men reached the final but lost 3-1 to top seeds and defending champions Indonesia in the final while the women were beaten 3-0 by defending champions Japan in the semi-finals.
”Both, the men and women are on a different platform. They should keep up the challenges and build up from here. The players should start self-believing to showcase their badminton talent,” said Choong Hann, who had special reasons to celebrate his 43rd birthday on Monday.
Malaysia crushed Japan 3-0 in the semi-finals and Korea by a similar margin the quarter-finals. In the group, beat India 4-1 and Kazakhstan 5-0 to finish on top.
One player who stood tall for Malaysia was Cheam June Wei who won all his matches in the second singles – including wins over Indonesia’s Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie in the final and India’s K. Srikanth, a former World No 1. June Wei also gunned Son Won-ho (Korea) and Kenta Nishimoto (Japan).
This is the first time June Wei slew top-ranked players in a tournament and the Malaysian said ”it is a confidence booster” for his badminton career. He has vowed to ride on his newfound confidence to further build-up his game.
”One thing that has impressed the coaches is the ability of the players to absorb the pressure…it does not matter if, in the end, they lost their match”.
Despite losing to Indonesia in the final, the story in Manila, however, is Malaysia. Japan head coach Park Joo Bong, was one of those who spoke highly of Malaysia and is impressed with the way Malaysian players took the challenge against higher-ranked opponents.
”Malaysia has good talent…all they need is proper guidance and exposure to international tournaments. I expect Malaysia to go far in the future. The Thomas Cup Finals could see some surprises from Malaysia,” said Joo Bong.
If Malaysia team manager Choong Hann is beaming with joy with Malaysia’s performance in the Asian Championships, to him it simply means ‘”we got to start somewhere” to get things moving.
“This is the right platform and the new challenges the players face are also a challenge to them (players) to prove themselves. I am impressed with what we saw in Manila. I am looking for a brighter future for Malaysian badminton,” added Choong Hann. RIZAL ABDULLAH