URGENT: Daren, Wei Feng must start delivering or make way
LIEW Daren and Chong Wei Feng can still become quality internationals if they can perform consistently as national singles coach Tey Seu Bock feels it will take another three years for the current batch of junior shuttlers to make a breakthrough.
However, Daren and Wei Feng must produce improved results by the end of the year to convince the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) they can still be depended on until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as both are already 27.
The chasing pack comprises Chong Yee Han and Tan Kian Meng, both 21, while three 19-year-old shuttlers — Soo Teck Zhi, Soong Joo Ven and Lim Chi Wing — are also being groomed to fill the vacuum which will be created should Lee Chong Wei retire at the end of the year.
Daren showed positive signs of fulfilling his potential when he won the French Open super series in 2012 but he failed to keep up the momentum and a string of poor results and injuries have seen him sliding down the world rankings where he is currently No 36.
Wei Feng performed better last year but he has yet to win any international title and Seu Bock urged both to learn from some of their rivals like Jan Jorgensen of Denmark, Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia and Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh who have won international honours although their level is about the same as the Malaysian duo.
"Daren and Wei Feng's quality is still much higher than the back-up players and if they can perform more consistently, they can become better players," said Seu Bock.
"Daren won the French Open when he was 25 while Wei Feng reached the semi-finals of a few super series events but they failed to take their chances in big tournaments when the top players lost early or did not compete.
"This is the difference between them and the likes of Jorgensen, Tommy and Nguyen. They have won more international titles compared to Daren and Wei Feng simply because they are able to perform better on a regular basis.
"Tommy was once written off as a world class player but he has been consistently making the finals of the super series and only loses to top players like Chong Wei or Chen Long (of China).
"Even Chong Wei only started winning regularly when he was 25 but he has grown from strength to strength.
"It may not be possible for others to emulate Chong Wei but Daren and Wei Feng should at least try to win international titles and also push hard to qualify for the 2016 Olympics."
Daren and Wei Feng have the All England on Mar 4-9 to get cracking while the former will also compete in the German Open a week earlier.