KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — With Japan, England and Egypt locked in Group D with Malaysia, it is only normal for our shuttlers to pay closer attention to the team from the Land of the Rising Sun when the group stage of the Sudirman Cup 2021 takes off in Vantaa, Finland on Sunday.
But that’s exactly what former world number one Datuk Lee Chong Wei is afraid of. And he did not mince his words when he reminded the Malaysian team not to take England and Egypt lightly.
He is especially wary of the threat posed by England who, he warned, are capable of springing a surprise should Malaysia underestimate their ability in the mixed team tournament.
“We know that Japan are the strong favourites in Group D, so it will be a tough match for Malaysia.
“But then, don’t ever look down on England and Egypt. What’s most important is that all the players must stay focused throughout the tournament if the team intends to go far in Finland,” he told Bernama when contacted today.
Meanwhile, Chong Wei, who led Malaysia to their highest-ever achievement in the tournament by winning the bronze medal in 2009, described the quarter-final target set by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) for the national team in Finland as realistic.
“I believe that Malaysia have a good chance to make the last eight of the Sudirman Cup,” he said.
Malaysia will be banking on the youngsters in the Sudirman Cup as the average age of the team will be 22, with mixed doubles player Cheah Yee See the oldest at 26.
National men’s singles ace and All England 2021 champion Lee Zii Jia will skipper the team in Finland.
Other players include Ng Tze Yong, Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin (men’s singles); Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun (men’s doubles); 2019 SEA Games champion S. Kisona, with Eoon Qi Xuan, K. Letshanaa (women’s singles); Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, Yap Ling-Teoh Mei Xing (women’s doubles); and Hoo Pang Ron-Yee See and Chen Tan Jie-Peck Yen Wei (mixed doubles).
Malaysia will take on England in their opening Group D match on Monday, followed by Egypt on September 28 before wrapping up the group fixtures against the 2019 runners-up Japan on September 30.
The biennial tournament in Finland ends on October 3. — Bernama