Malaysia squeezes past Korea 3-2 in Thomas Cup

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Iskandar Zulkarnain shakes hand with Lee Dong Keun after the match on Tuesday.

Kunshan: The selection of Chong Wei Feng for a roster spot in the 2016 Malaysia Thomas Cup team was a controversial one, but his track record in team event and his performance on Tuesday proved Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has made a right move in picking him over former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli.Iskandar Zulkarnain shakes hand with Lee Dong Keun after the match on Tuesday.

Chong showed great courage and shouldered all the pressure in third men’s singles when he found himself against Jeon Hyeok Jin after score between Malaysia and South Korea was tied at 2-2 on Tuesday in Kunshan, China. The World No. 68 Chong managed to put on an outstanding performance by clinching the winning point with 21-16, 21-16 victory over World No. 28 Jeon Hyeok Jin.Chong Wei Feng wins the critical third point for Malaysia against South Korea. (photo: AFP)

Earlier, World No. 2 Malaysian badminton superstar Lee Chong Wei swiftly took first blood in the first men’s singles by beating World No. 9 Son Won Ho of South Korea 21-18, 21-15.

After the match, Malaysia’s team captain Lee Chong Wei told reporters that winning first point was critical because it could encourage other players to play their best in following matches.

“Son Wan Ho is a top class player, and we have to treat the match differently from our first and second tie,” said Lee Chong Wei.

“I have to play my best to win the first point to ensure Malaysia can be the group champion,” added Lee.

However, World No. 1 men’s pair Lee Yong Dae-Yoo Yeon Seong rallied to beat scratch pair Goh V Shem-Koo Kien Keat 21-16, 21-11 as South Korea came back to even the tie at 1-1.

Malaysia’s national champion Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin kept his cool and his patience paid off when he roared past World No. 16 Lee Dong Keun 21-17, 21-15 to give Malaysia the 2-1 lead.

Scratch pair Tan Boon Heong/Tan Wee Kiong were leaving things to “go down to the wire” after they narrowly loss to World No. 4 pair Kim Gi Jung-Kim Sa Rang 14-21, 22-24.

The 3-2 victory against South Korea allowed Malaysia to top Group C and was able to avoid seeded teams like China, Indonesia or Denmark in the quarterfinals. The Malaysian team will next play in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

In Uber action, the Malaysian women’s hope of making the quarter-finals was dashed after the squad failed to stir a similar resurgence against Denmark, losing 2-3 to Denmark’s Uber Cup team at the Kunshan Sports Centre in a closely contested 3-2 battle.

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