KUALA LUMPUR: Former doubles ace Cheah Soon Kit has an idea what is ailing Malaysian badminton.
He thinks Malaysia lack a supremo – like China’s Li Yongbo.
Soon Kit believes that the absence of a mastermind, in the mould of Yongbo, to chart Malaysian badminton’s fortunes was the reason behind the poor form of top doubles shuttlers Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and world No. 1 singles star Lee Chong Wei.
In fact, Soon Kit also feels that is also the reason why the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have failed to find a successor for Chong Wei.
The former ace was commenting on the demoralising early-round exits suffered by Kien Keat-Boon Heong in two international tournaments recently.
Last week, Kien Keat-Boon Heong were sent packing in the first round of the Denmark Open. Then, on Thursday, they crashed out in the second round to Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Pedersen-Jonas Rasmussen in the French Open in Paris.
Chong Wei too has been showing his frailties lately, especially after crashing out twice to China’s Chen Long in the finals of the Japan Open and Denmark Open in a month.
And Chong Wei’s shaky performances have turned everyone’s attention to the second stringers.
Soon Kit said that he himself was not clear as to who was responsible for major decision-makings in the national body or whether they knew the consequences of their actions.
“I have worked in BAM before and I have good friends in the set-up. But as an outsider now, I am able to see things in a different perspective. In the case of Koo and Tan, who is responsible for them? Who is monitoring their coaches?” asked Soon Kit.
“Koo and Tan asked to train under a different coach recently (from Rexy Mainaky to Pang Cheh Chang) but did anyone look into the reasons as to why they needed to change. Who is responsible for the appointment of the new coach? Can this coach take Koo and Tan to a higher level?
“I know that another coach from South Korea (Yoo Yong-sung) has been roped in. Is he a proven coach? Is he going to change Koo and Tan’s training programme? Why take a gamble and bring in someone new with less than a year before the Olympic Games?
“I want the best for the country and that’s why I say we lack someone like Yongbo. He is experienced, knowledgeable and always thinks a few steps ahead.
“Their men’s doubles players used to be the weak links but now they have three good pairs, including four-time world champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng. And look at how an inexperienced Chen Long has transformed himself into an able replacement for Lin Dan.”
And speaking of replacement, Malaysia’s second best, the 24-year-old Liew Daren, was no match for Chen Long in the second round of the French Open on Thursday, going down 17-21, 17-21 in 39 minutes.
For the record, Malaysia’s singles and doubles coaches report to chief coaches Rashid Sidek and Tan Kim Her respectively. Rashid and Kim Her themselves are under the purview of high performance director Datuk James Selvaraj.
But James is uncertain of his role and responsibility because the BAM exco do not want him to continue working on a part-time basis.
All the major decisions – from the selection of players to the appointment of coaches and planning – are made at the coaching and training committee, which is chaired by Ng Chin Chai, and later endorsed by BAM’s council and exco.