KUALA LUMPUR: A couple of months ago men’s singles shuttlers Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Kuan Beng Hong were going through a slump and were on the brink of being dropped from the national team.
But how their fortunes have changed since.
In the next few days, the duo are likely to be told that they will be retained in the national team. But the best part is that one of them is expected to be named for the Sudirman Cup, which will be held in Guangzhou from May 10-17.
The move is to strengthen Malaysia’s bid to reach their first-ever semi-finals in the world mixed team event. Those already confirmed for the trip to China are world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Wong Mew Choo, Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty and Ng Hui Lin.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have decided to keep Hafiz and Beng Hong under their wings following the duo’s improved performances in the Indian Open and Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in Suwon, South Korea, earlier this month.
With BAM preferring to rely on a senior player for the Sudirman Cup, youngster Tan Chun Seang will have to forget about representing Malaysia for the first time in a major tournament.
The BAM had earlier given singles chief coach Rashid Sidek the green light to name one of the elite back-up shuttlers for the Sudirman Cup.
Currently, the elite back-up shuttlers on the reserve list are Chun Seang, Hafiz and Beng Hong.
The doubles players in the reserve list are Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif, Julia Wong, Vivian Hoo, Woon Khe Wei and Goh Liu Ying.
The BAM are expected to approve a 10-member team after a coaching and training committee meeting this week – either on Thursday or Friday.
Chun Seang admitted that he had probably blown away a good chance following his inconsistent performances in the last two international tournaments.
He made it to his first quarter-finals in the Indian Open after beating higher ranked players – Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam and Anup Sridhar of India.
“But in the ABC, he lost to Hong Kong’s Ng Wei in the opening round.
“The final list is not out yet but I think one of the seniors will be selected. They had better results than me,” said Chun Seang.
“I am happy that a nagging ankle injury is not bothering me any more. I promise to work even harder in training to be a better player.”
Based on the draw recently, Malaysia are in the same group with top seeds Denmark, South Korea and Hong Kong in Division One. The other group comprises defending champions China, Indonesia, Japan and England.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals. For the record, Malaysia’s best results in the world mixed team event is a sixth placing in Glasgow two years ago.