PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles coaches Paulus Firman and Pang Cheh Chang have only worked together for the past 10 days, but they both agree that it is already too late to split the partnership of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong, ranked fifth in the world, have been performing poorly over the past two years and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have gave them yet another ultimatum – deliver at the back-to-back Denmark and French Opens which are on from Oct 15-20 and Oct 22-27 respectively, or face separation.
Paulus and Cheh Chang however beg to differ and believe that it is better to keep the duo together while focusing on training the younger pairs to surpass them.
“Realistically speaking, if Kien Keat-Boon Heong were to be split, it should have been done much earlier,” admitted Cheh Chang.
“A country still needs at least one top pair and there is no guarantee that if we split them now the new partnerships will reach the level of Kien Keat-Boon Heong.
“That said, our main focus now is still to develop the younger players and bring up at least two more combinations that can surpass Kien Keat-Boon Heong as well as Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong. That should be in the best interest of the team.
“If we base the results from the KL Open last week, we can see that younger players are taking up this challenge and this is good because it will give the seniors some pressure.
“In turn the established pairs will also need to step up and show the ability and results to stay on before the younger players overtake them.
“They have been in a comfort zone for quite a while and they themselves need to show changes in their own game.”
Kien Keat-Boon Heong do not have an easy draw in the Denmark Open, as they are set to meet the new South Korean combination of Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong in the quarter-finals.
Thien How-Wee Kiong on the other hand are to face third seeds Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan in the second round.
Meanwhile Cheh Chang also said that the issue of Goh V Shem and Lim Khim Wah’s partnership will be resolved on Saturday, with both players getting new partners.
“We are still working on the different partnerships in matchplay format which ends on Friday. On Saturday we will announce the new combinations which will be made permanent,” said Cheh Chang.
“Once all the pairs have been finalised, we will have a ranking tournament for them, at the behest of the management, in which we will gauge the level of the players.”
Paulus added that such a ranking tournament would help them plan the players’ tournament schedule in the future.
“Once we know where they stand, we can decide whether to send them for Super Series events, GP Golds or satellite events,” said Paulus.
“After all, there is no point sending players to bigger events if their standard is only at satellite level. There is no point if they keep losing in the first round because they can’t earn ranking points and they’ll be psychologically affected too.
“Of course, we’ll also expect progress from the players and if they do not show any, they will be dropped eventually.”