PETALING JAYA: A day after qualifying for the Thomas Cup Finals, national doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her took a swipe at the Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) for their lack of foresight in coming up with the format for this year’s Asian Zone qualifiers.
Yesterday, Malaysia went down 0-3 to Japan in the semi-finals but their challenge in the tournament is not over yet. They still have to play Indonesia in the playoff for third and fourth place today.
As both Malaysia and Indonesia are assured of tickets to the Finals in Wuhan in May by virtue of reaching the semi-finals, expect them to field weaker line-ups.
The BAC had also subjected all the losing quarter-finalists in both the Thomas and Uber Cup qualifiers to a round-robin playoff. But instead of making them play three extra ties, the BAC could have just picked the highest-ranked team for the Finals to make everyone’s life easier.
For example, Malaysia’s Uber Cup team lost 2-3 to Hong Kong yesterday but they still have to play Indonesia and Singapore although their chances of reaching the Finals are very slim.
With many of the players exhausted, some of the playoff ties are turning out to be a chore as teams don’t take them seriously.
Kim Her said the players should not be unnecessarily taxed with a busy schedule ahead of them.
They have a European campaign to prepare for with the German Open from Feb 28-March 4, All England (March 6-11) and Swiss Open (March 13-18).
“I would rather not play in the third place playoff. Our mission has been accomplished – we have qualified for the Finals,” said Kim Her.
“We have three European tournaments coming up and most of the players are going all out to earn Olympic qualifying points. Now, they have only one week to recover from this gruelling tournament.
“I pity the South Koreans. They are certainly the highest ranked team among all the losing quarter-finalists and deserve to be in the Finals. But they have to play three extra ties just to confirm their place.”
Yesterday, Malaysia rested their top players – Lee Chong Wei and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong – and lost 0-3 to Japan.
Back-up shuttler Liew Daren had the perfect platform to prove himself but he failed to save a tie when he went down fighting 28-30, 21-19 to the higher-ranked Kenichi Tago.
Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem also failed to win points when they crashed out in contrasting fashions.
Hafiz found it hard to break the resolve of Sasaki, biting the dust with a 19-21, 16-21 defeat while Khim Wah-V Shem gave a good fight before losing 11-21, 21-11, 18-21 to Noriyasu Hirata-Hirokatsu Hashimoto.
The defeat to Japan invoked painful memories of a Finals group tie in 2010.
Despite Daren’s failure to win a single match, Rashid still gave him credit.
“Daren played well. He showed much improvement in his game.
“On paper, he is the underdog but he gave Tago a run for his money,” said Rashid.