Rexy challenges duo (pic)


K.M. Boopathy

WINNING the All England title, especially on their debut, is the hallmark of true champions.

And coming from national doubles coach Rexy Mainaky, who as a player won the title twice, it is a message that Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong must take very seriously.

This is because Rexy has always listed the All England, which will be played in Birmingham on March 6-11, among the major titles which he wants his charges to win.

And Rexy firmly believes Kien Keat-Boon Heong are capable of winning it.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong are ranked World No 32 but seeded eighth in Birmingham due to their good run on the international scene.

The Malaysians are aiming for their second prestigious crown after having won the Asian Games gold in Doha last December.

And with Malaysias last mens All England doubles title coming in 1982 via Razif and Jalani Sidek, the pressure is greater on Kien Keat-Boon Heong.

The road to the title will not be easy as they are down to meet three Indonesian pairs Sigit Budiarto-Frans Kurniawan, Luluk Hadiyanto-Alven Yulianto and joint third seeds Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan en route to the semi-finals but Rexy believes his young charges have the mental resilience to go through.

In the semi-finals, they are likely to meet defending champions Jens Eriksen-Martin Lundgaard Hansen of Denmark while their final opponents could be either top seeds Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun of China or the Indonesian-American combination of Candra Wijaya-Tony Gunawan.

"I feel Kien Keat-Boon Heong have an easier draw than their teammates but they must work hard to go all the way to win the title. Then they can call themselves true champions," said Rexy.

"Im saying this because they are making their debut in the event as a pair and they have to beat some strong pairs from the second round onwards.

"This is a big test as their rivals will also be prepared for them and the All-England is not an easy tournament to win."

Boon Heong said the fact that he will be playing in England for the first time will make it difficult but he will be battling hard with Kien Keat to deliver.

"Ive never played in the All-England and that will make it tougher," said Boon Heong.

"Our rivals are now aware of our tactics and we need to work harder. It is hard to say if we can win but we will give it our best shot to continue doing well."

(source: NST)


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