KUALA LUMPUR: Koo Kien Keat is not smiling although his path in the World Championships has become easier following the forced withdrawal of Thailand’s Maneepong Jongjit-Nipitphon Puangpuapech.
Second seeds Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong were expected to cross swords with the Thais in the men’s doubles third round of the world meet.
The Malaysians had lost to the Thais in the second round of the All-England in March this year.
Maneepong will not be in Guangzhou as he was one of the two players banned by the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) on Sunday for an ugly brawl during the final of the Canadian Open last Sunday.
Bodin Issara, who punched and kicked Maneepong during the men’s doubles final, was handed a two-year ban while Maneepong, who instigated the fight, received a three-month sentence. Kien Keat said that he did not take pleasure in other people’s misery.
“For Boon Heong and I, the World Championships is not about whom we meet. It is about how prepared we are on match day. I have nothing to say about the ban on the Thais. It is best that we focus on our game,” said Kien Keat.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong have a first-round bye. They are expected to face the winners of the match between India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra-Akshay Dewalkar and Germany’s Peter Kaesbauer-Josche Zurwonne in the second round.
If they make it to the third round, they will probably take on Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei-Ng Ka Long or Canadians Adrian Liu-Derrick Ng for a place in the quarter-finals.
National doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her said the Thais’ absence would enhance Kien Keat-Boon Heong’s chances of making the quarter-finals.
“Maneepong and Nipitphon have done well to push some of the top pairs in a short span of time. They would have been the dark horses in the world meet. In their absence, our pair’s path is much easier,” added Kim Her.