Lee Chong Wei to spearhead Malaysia’s 2018 Thomas Cup team

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Lee Chong Wei named in Malaysia's Thomas Cup team. (photo: AFP)
Lee Chong Wei named in Malaysia's Thomas Cup team. (photo: AFP)

Kuala Lumpur: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has set a semi-finals and quarterfinals target for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup squad, respectively.

Its president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria while announcing both the men’s and women’s squads for the prestigious tournament to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from May 20-27, believed it is the best line up to bring the country’s challenge.

For the Thomas Cup, BAM has lined-up Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Lee Zii Jia, Iskandar Zulkarnain and 2017 World Junior Championship silver medallist, Leong Jun Hao for the men’s singles, while the men’s doubles consist of Goh V Shem, Tan Wee Kiong, Aaron Chia, Soh Wooi Yik, Teo Ee Yi and Arif Abdul Latif.

The 2015 World Junior champion Goh Jin Wei, 2017 SEA Games silver medallist Sonia Cheah, youngsters Lee Ying Ying and S. Kisona opted for the singles event in Uber Cup, while Vivian Hoo, Chow Mei Kuan, Lee Meng Yean, Goh Yeah Ching, Soong Fie Cho and Tee Jing Yi were listed in the doubles event.

On the selection of inexperienced players in the men’s doubles, Mohamad Norza said the players were selected based on their latest performance in terms of all angles based on recommendations by doubles head coach Cheah Soon Kit.

“Aaron and Soh were selected based on their latest performance as well as their characters and personality.

As for Teo and Arif, we lifted them to be able to put scratch pairs in terms of strategy.

“If you look in 2014 for instance, V Shem and Wee Kiong were made a scratch pair, that was their first exposure (before they went all the way winning the Rio Olympics silver medal). Similarly, this will be an investment for the future as we always rely on senior players. It’s time to bring changes to the men’s doubles.

“We want players who have hunger and self-belief to fight whoever that they are facing.

I think we need to make that kind of brave decision to move forward. I hope everyone will play their role as it requires team effort,” he said in a press conference after chairing BAM’s Coaching & Training (C&T) Committee meeting at ABM here, Thursday.

The national team is scheduled to undergo a preparation camp from May 10-15 at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) here, which includes team training, team bonding sessions by National Sports Institute psychologist and team outing ending with BAM family lunch, said Mohamad Norza.

Mohamad Norza also confirmed that, professional shuttler Liew Daren, who qualified for the 2018 World Championship at Nanjing, China from Aug 20-27 on merit, would be given the green light to compete at the tournament, ahead of BAM shuttlers, who had yet to qualify.

“Yes it is confirmed. He deserves it. We have also informed (men’s singles head coach) Datuk Misbun Sidek that we were not satisfied with the performances of the BAM players who had not gained qualification yet.

“If based on planning and exposure, everything is fine, but their performance is still not up to the mark. Daren, who played in less championships than they did, is placed on a higher ranking, but they cannot,” he said.

Daren stunned BAM when he qualified for the World Championship with world number seven Chong Wei, ahead of other BAM shuttlers — Iskandar, Zii Jia, Soong Joo Ven and Cheam June Wei in the men’s singles.

The other players who earned their berth in the World Championship are V Shem-Wee Kiong, Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sim (men’s doubles); Sonia, Jin Wei (women’s singles); Vivian-Woon Khe Wei, Mei Kuan-Meng Yean (women’s doubles); Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jenie, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Chang Peng Soon-Cheah Yee See (mixed doubles).

“We confirm everyone, except Peng Soon-Yee See because we are waiting for Peng Soon to get qualification with his regular partner Goh Liu Ying. We also approved Khe Wei, but subject to her knee injury status,” he said. – Bernama

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