The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are confident that the young players in the Thomas Cup squad would rise the occasion and qualify for the Thomas Cup Finals in Kunshan, China.
BAM deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said BAM’s decision to line up young players, led by 2011 World Junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli, should not be questioned.
“Give the young players an opportunity to prove themselves. We will qualify, I am confident. After being briefed by BAM Technical director Morten Frost, we have a number of options. We either send all senior players, a mixture of senior and junior players or just junior players.
“We felt it is time to send the junior players. Zulfadhli is the former World Junior champion like Kento Momonta from Japan and Viktor Axelsen from Denmark.
“Zulfadhli is world number 42, Momonta is currently world number three and Axelsen is world number six. Just look at how far our players are behind,” he said when met after chairing the National Sports Institute (ISN) Board of Directors meeting, here today.
BAM has listed Zulfadhli, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Soong Joo Ven and Soo Teck Zhi in the singles, Tan Kian Meng, Ong Yew Sin, Low Juan Shen, Teo Ee Yi, Tan Wee Gieen, Tan Chee Tean in the doubles. The country’s number one pair Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong are not in.
Norza said the team must get through the Badminton Asia Confederation Team championships in Hyderabad, India from Feb 15-21 to qualify for the Thomas Cup Finals from May 15-22.
BAM’s selection had drawn criticism from some ex-players who are not happy with the decision.
Mohamad Norza said the BAM had not listed former world number one and current world number five Datuk Lee Chong Wei so as to not interrupt his preparations for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil, scheduled in August.
“Chong Wei’s challengers are not Lin Dan or Chen Long but young players like Momonta and Axelsen who are in the region of 21 years. They have been given the chance to challenge Chong Wei, so why must we be reluctant to give our youngsters a chance to prove themselves,” he asked.
In the women’s competition, BAM has lined up Tee Jing Yi, Ho Yen Mei, Goh Jin Wei, Lee Ying Ying (singles) and Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei, Amelia Alicia/Soong Fie Cho, Lee Meng Yean/Low Juan Shen to challenge for the Uber Cup final. – BERNAMA