KUALA LUMPUR: Japan are never really a force to be reckoned with in the men’s singles event in the past.
But their future generation of players are going great guns and they are set to spoil the party for Malaysia’s Tan Chun Seang and Chong Wei Feng in the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC), which will be held in New Delhi from April 12-18.
Chun Seang will take on Kazushi Yamada while Wei Feng faces Kenichi Tago in the opening round respectively.
Kazushi defeated Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the second round of the Swiss Open last month while Tago showed his prowess when he took down China giants Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai before bowing out to world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the final of the All-England last month. Both Kazushi and Tago are not only younger but they are also ranked higher than the Malaysians, who have yet to achieve any breakthrough since they joined the back-up squad five years ago.
The 23-year-old Chun Seang agreed that it would be a challenging time to come through the battle among the future stars.
“I have lost to this Japanese player once, two years ago. He is skilful and will run for every shot. It will not be easy,” he said.
“But like him, I am also trying to establish myself. I am really determined to prove myself in this tournament.”
There is renewed determination in Chun Seang since he returned to the national fold after quitting the sport for two months last year.
“I regretted the decision. But I think, the two months away from the sport was a blessing in disguise. It gave me a lot of time to think and I was more than determined to prove myself when I returned,” he said.
“Currently, I am hoping to make the squad for the Thomas Cup Finals. This is the dream of every player.
“Hopefully, I will be able to go far at the ABC meet.”
The others in his half of the draw are Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana, Indonesia’s Andre Kurniawan Tedjono, compatriot Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh and second seed Lin Dan of China.
Wei Feng is in the other half of the draw which has top seed Taufik and China’s Chen Long and Du Pengyu.