Don’t fear China, Choong Hann tells national shuttlers

Wong Choong Hann  celebrates beating Taufik Hidayat during their men's singles round of 32 badminton match at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 11, 2008. — Reuters pic
Wong Choong Hann celebrates beating Taufik Hidayat during their men's singles round of 32 badminton match at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 11, 2008. — Reuters pic

SEPANG, May 16 — Don’t be afraid of playing against a world powerhouse like China!

This was the piece of advice given by the Badminton Association Malaysia (BAM) coaching director, Wong Choong Hann to the national shuttlers ahead of their Sudirman Cup Tournament in Nanning, China from May 19-27.

Choong Hann stressed that the national players should not feel demoralised playing against hosts China who were the hot favourites to win the Group D tie based on their good track records in the tournament. 

“Overall, we are clearly behind China in every department, but we will bank on our team members to do their best and pull off some upsets,” he told reporters before the team departed for China at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) 2, here, today.

 Choong Hann, who is former national player, asserted that the national players should seek to secure a victory against India to boost their hope to the quarter-finals in the 16th edition of the biennial tournament.

He added that the national side had an upper hand against India especially in the men’s doubles, but reminded the players to be cautious against the threats from their opponents.

On another note, Choong Hann said the decision to pick Goh Soon Huat and Chow Mei Kuan as the captain and vice-captain for the tournament was made based on their vast experience in the international team event tournaments compared to other players.

He added that both players should prove their worth to lead the team after BAM decided to use young blood for this year’s campaign.

Meanwhile, Soon Huat revealed that he was ready to give his best and urged his teammates not to be scared of playing against China and India as they had nothing to lose.

“Actually, I am quite surprised to be named the team’s captain, but I will take this chance to lead this young team. Both teams are very strong but we will do our best though it will be a tough call,” added Soon Huat who will play in the mixed doubles.

Sharing his sentiments was Mei Kuan who believed that all the players were highly motivated to give their best though they would be facing stern tests against among the two top teams in the tournament.

“I want to thanks the coaches for giving me the opportunity to be a vice-captain and I hope all the players will demonstrate their best fighting spirit when they are selected to play in the tournament,” added Mei Kuan who would play in the women’s doubles.

Malaysia would meet China in the first Group D tie on May 19, before facing India in the final preliminary fixtures, two days later.

Based on the tournament format, only the top two teams would advance to the quarter-finals.

BAM would be sending Lee Zii Jia, Cheam Jun Wei and Soong Joo Vern for the men’s individual event; Goh Jin Wei, Soniia Cheah and Lee Ying Ying (women’s individual); Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin and Nur Izzuddin Muhd Rumsani (men’s doubles); Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen (women’s doubles) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Chen Tang Jie (mixed doubles).

Malaysia had never won the Sudirman Cup since it was introduced in 1989, with their best performance being a semi-final appearance in the 2009 championship in Guangzhou, China. — Bernama