Malaysia crushes Hong Kong to qualify for Thomas Cup

Datuk Lee Chong Wei leads Malaysia into the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Championships. —Bernama pic
Datuk Lee Chong Wei leads Malaysia into the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Championships. —Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA — National shuttler Lee Zii Jia showcased his potential today as he secured Malaysia’s winning point against Hong Kong for the 3-0 win in the Badminton Asia Team Championships quarterfinal to qualify for Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok in May.

The 19-year-old Alor Star-born shuttler impresssed with his 21-16, 21-15 win in the second singles match against Wong Wing Ki, thus remaining unbeaten in front of his home supporters.

National singles head coach Misbun Sidek has hinted Zii Jia has the ability to become Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s long term successor today.

“I hope he’s not satisfied with what he has achieved now,” said Misbun.

“It’s not easy to reach a high level, but we will find a way to shape him into a top player.

“Zii Jia’s got the height, skills and calibre but at the back of these young minds they tend to be worried about losing when they enter the court.

“That’s why I feel his biggest obstacle is himself. He has slowly learnt to adapt to playing in a team event and I’ve told him not to think too much about the results and just play his best.”

Lee Chong Wei had given Malaysia the lead after beating Ng Ka Long 21-15, 22-20 followed by first doubles Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong who thrashed Or Chin Chung-Tang Chun Man 21-11, 21-6 before Zii Jia delivered to lead Malaysia into the semis.

Malaysia will play China, who beat India 3-1, in the last four tomorrow.

“My aim is to challenge these youngsters. When you challenge them, they can perform and the results will come,” said Misbun.

“We want to find the right team with the right spirit and quality play come the Thomas Cup.”

In the women’s quarterfinal, South Korea were in a different class when they thrashed Malaysia 3-0.

The defeat means Malaysia must now gain entry through the backdoor as one of the three highest ranked teams once the continental team championships are concluded.

A total of four teams each from Asia and Europe will be joined champions from Africa, Pan America and Oceania as well as hosts Thailand and defending champions China for the Uber Cup Finals.

Against Korea, Sonii Cheah found world No 6 Sung Ji Hyun too strong and fell 21-13, 21-10 in the first singles while Vivian Hoo-Tee Jing Yi were beaten 21-10, 21-15 by Lee So Hee-Shin Seung Chan in the first doubles.

Goh Jin Wei took the fight to world No 17 Lee Jang Mi before losing 17-21, 21-11, 21-13 in the second singles.

Despite the setback, women’s singles coach Tey Seu Bock believes Malaysia can qualify for the Uber Cup Finals.

“There’s still three months before the Uber Cup but were in good position to qualify. There’s the Commonwealth Games which will add to our ranking points,” said Seu Bock.

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