IT was a great reawakening for Malaysia when they redeemed their battered pride to beat Denmark 3-2 in a five-hour battle at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night to reach the Thomas Cup semi-finals.
And it took a transformed Mohd Hafiz Hashim to deliver the killer blow to the Danish team, crushing Joachim Persson 21-12, 21-10, to win the decisive fifth match of the quarter-final tie.
Hafiz’s cool and calm approach in his win yesterday prevented Persson from being the hero for the second time in the Finals. Persson had clinched the winning point for the Danish team when he defeated Kuan Beng Hong at the same stage of the 2006 Finals in Japan.
Hafiz was happy to finally come good in front of the home fans after many previous failures.
“This is a very happy moment for me because I was able to clinch the winning point to take Malaysia to the semi-finals,” said Hafiz.
“I have failed a few times before but today, I managed to pull it off. I hope this win redeems the team’s pride after out loss to Japan (in a group tie on Tuesday). Hopefully, we can stay focused and be ready for China.”
Prior to Hafiz’s match, Malaysia had gone through a roller coaster ride of emotions.
The 7,000 fans in the stadium enjoyed a high when Malaysia’s world No. 1s Lee Chong Wei and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong won their matches to give the team a 2-0 lead.
Chong Wei scored a 21-17, 21-17 win over Peter Gade-Christensen in a 50-minute match. And pumped up Kien Keat-Boon Heong kept the momentum going with a 21-17, 21-19 win over Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen.
Denmark staged a great fightback to level the tie through youngster Jan O Jorgensen, and old hands Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen.
Wong Choong Hann blew the chance to seal the tie for Malaysia. He held a five-point advantage at game point in the first game and in the end was beaten 20-22, 21-16, 18-21 by Jorgsensen.
Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Hoon Thien How also sparked off a great hope after taking a 26-24 opening game win against All-England champions Paaske-Rasmussen before going down 12-21, 19-21 in a 74-minute battle.
Then came the chance for Hafiz to turn hero for Malaysia and he did it in style.