By Rizal Abdullah
Malaysia were highly favoured to win the Thomas Cup at the last edition in New Delhi in 2014 but ended up playing bridesmaid to Japan who wrote history in their 3-2 win in the final.
And for this year’s edition to be held in Kunshan, China from May 15-22, Malaysia were handed a favourable after being drawn in Group C which has the strong South Koreans, England and Germany to battle for a top two finish to advance to the knockout stage.
On paper Malaysia should join Korea in the elimination round. However, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) technical director has issued a timely warning to the team that complacency could spoil things for Malaysia.
With national champion Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin on the crock list it is a spanner in the Malaysian team’s preparations. The Malaysian team will be led by former World No 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei.
Others who are expected to make the grade in the team to Kunshan are former world and Asian junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli plus the doubles combination of National No 1 Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and privateers Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.
Apart from complacency the other dreaded word in the team is “inconsistency” which has been the main drawback of Malaysian shuttlers.
V Shem-Wee Kiong reached the semi-finals in the All England but flopped miserably in the Swiss Open and were second round casualties.
The first round defeat of Chong Wei in the recent Yonex All-England Championships in Birmingham is a cause for concern especially when the chase for Olympic glory is also a distraction.
The national No 1 lost to India’s B. Sai Praneeth 22-24, 20-22 in a shock defeat. He was later withdrawn from the Swiss Open to refocus his campaign in the India Open and the Malaysia Open.
“We have a fighting chance against our opponents to reach the quarter-finals,” said the Dane on the draw for Thomas Cup made in Kunshan on Monday.
“However, we cannot be complacent against England and Germany in the group matches. We have to be totally focused on all matches.”
Malaysia will name their team for the Thomas Cup next month. It will be finalised after the coaching and training committee meeting.
Thomas Cup Groupings
GROUP A: China. Japan, France, Mexico
GROUP B: Indonesia, India, Thailand, Hong Kong
GROUP C: South Korea, Malaysia, England, Germany
GROUP D: Denmark, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Africa