KUALA LUMPUR: A significant number of Malaysian badminton qualifiers for this year’s World Championships are expected to be former internationals.
Based on the current world rankings, four seasoned campaigners – Wong Ch oong Hann, Lee Tsuen Seng and Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah – are as good as through to the World Championships, which will be held in India from Aug 10-16.
The others likely to make it on merit are elite singles shuttlers Lee Chong Wei, Julia Wong and Wong Mew Choo and doubles stars Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty.
The on-going Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in Suwon, South Korea, is the last major tournament offering valuable world ranking points before the deadline for the world meet ends on April 30.
With not many changes expected in the world rankings, the four veterans – Choong Hann, Tsuen Seng, Tan Fook and Wan Wah, who are now independent players on international circuit – are expected to make the trip to India.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) rules stipulate that a country can have a maximum of four players if all of them are ranked in the top eight.
A country is only allowed three representatives if all of them are in the top 24 while a maximum of only two are allowed per country if both are in the top 150.
Currently, the four Malaysian men’s singles players in the top 24 of the world rankings are world No. 1 Chong Wei, Choong Hann (No. 11), Tsuen Seng (No. 19) and Mohd Hafiz Hashim (No. 24).
Hafiz’s hopes of overtaking Tsuen Seng, who left the national team almost five years ago, as the third qualifier for the world meet went up in smoke when he crashed out to China’s Chen Long in the second round of the ABC recently.
The BAM will have no choice but to include Choong Hann and Tsuen Seng into the world meet squad because none of their other players are ranked close to these former internationals.
Kuan Beng Hong is in 41st spot, followed by four elite back-up players – Chong Wei Feng (46th), Tan Chun Seang (62nd), Mohd Arif Abdul Latif (67th) and Liew Daren (74th).
In the men’s doubles, Indian Open champions and world No. 9 Tan Fook-Wan Wah are expected to make the trip for the world meet as the country’s third qualifiers.
The two ahead of them are world No. 4 Kien Keat-Boon Heong and world No. 6 Fairuzizuan-Zakry.
There are four other BAM pairs – Hoon Thien How-Ong Soon Hock, Mohd Razif Abdul Latif-Tan Wee Kiong, Gan Teik Chai-Lin Woon Fui and Tan Bin Shen-Khoo Chung Chiat – in the top 50, but all of them are starting afresh with new partners this year.