Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian badminton Superstar and World No. 2 Lee Chong Wei urged former World Junior champion and Asian Junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli to train with shuttlers from Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) if Zulkiffli would like to represent Malaysia at the Asia Badminton Team Championship to be held in Alor Setar, Kedah next February. The semi-finalist of the Asia Badminton Team Championship will qualified for the 2018 Thomas Cup.
Lee acknowledged that Zulkiffli’s skill level is pretty much at the similar level as BAM shuttlers, but the 2011 World Junior Champion needed to focus on his fitness.
“I have talked to the men’s singles head coach Misbun Sidek. If Zulfadli would like to play for Malaysia in the championship, he needs to train with the BAM. Still, that does not guarantee him a place to play because he must go through the selection process like the rest of the team,” said Lee.
“The selection process must be fair to all players. Both BAM and the coaches are more than happy to see Zulfadli to join our national team training.”
“He would need to prove his worth and increase his growing chance to play in the Thomas Cup by following BAM’s training program,” added Lee.
“However, I would like to clarify that no one is forcing Zulfadli to join BAM permanently, this is all about preparing for the Thomas Cup qualifying round for the Thomas Cup.”
The World No. 44 Zulfadli Zulkiffli is Malaysia’s third best men’s singles player behind World No. 2 Lee Chong Wei and World No. 42 Lee Zii Jia. Nevertheless, Lee also explained that the selection do not necessarily be made based on ranking because the national team will also considered the readiness to play and whether the shuttler has the required fighting spirit.
“This is a team event, and it’s critical to select a player that could step up to the plate to fight for the country.”
Lee was undefeated in the 2014 Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi where Malaysia eventually finished as runners-up after losing to Japan 2-3 in the final.