His aura was felt as he walked into the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) on Monday to officially report for duty as the new men’s singles head coach – escorted by new Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria.

He gave Malaysia’s number one shuttler Datuk Wira Lee Chong Wei a warm hug – which rekindled a “father-son” relationship on the courts that were missing when Datuk Misbun Sidek quit the BAM in a huff in 2011.

The hug meant a lot to all parties – especially Chong Wei – who played a key role in Misbun’s return to the BAM fold.

The “father-son” relationship never took a backseat when Misbun – himself a former national champion – walked away from the national body due to a fallout with the BAM management.  The duo kept in touch through social media or through occasional visits to each other.

But the trademark hugs on the court were missing when Chong Wei played in tournaments – both, in local and international tournaments.

That warm hug seen at ABM on Monday is the beginning of a new era for Malaysian badminton with high hopes of a new journey for the shuttle sport in the country.

Misbun, always a humble man of few words, sent strong signals that the current players will have to follow his regime as he gets down to hard work after giving himself a week to assess the players – to see if they can be world beaters or just making up the numbers.

Chong Wei and many others believe that the lanky Misbun can produce champions and turn the lazy ones into world beaters like Chong Wei. The also rans will have to be prepared for tough and gruelling training sessions. For the record, Misbun books no nonsense when it comes to discipline.

Misbun, however, is pleased with the big pool of talent that is at his disposal but will not hesitate to weed out the dead wood.

Probably that is why Chong Wei is also considered “tops” when it comes to discipline during training – on and off the court.

Norza rightly drove home a strong message that it could be the beginning or the end for certain players. The BAM president stressed that the state of art facilities and world class coaches should drive the players to take their game to a higher level and rule the badminton world but they will have to make a lot of sacrifices and hard work.

Misbun rounded off his first day with this simple message that he is “no genius but has little knowledge and experience” to accept the challenge to turn things around in two years and produce more players like Chong Wei. Misbun has signed a two-year deal with BAM.

For a start Misbun is expected to play a key role in Chong Wei’s bid to win the elusive world title in this year’s World Championships to be held in Glasgow, Scotland from Aug 21-27. The former World No 1 who is currently ranked number two.

Misbun will be helped by Hendrawan, Indra Wijaya and Sairul Amar Ayob.

Chong Wei will be accompanied by Misbun and Hendrawan to Glasgow. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH

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