Osaka: Malaysia’s professional shuttlers Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif/Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub who gave Rio Olympic silver medalists Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong a run for their money early March in the final of Malaysia national championships before losing to Goh/Tan 17-21, 21-19, 15-21, continued to excel in the men’s doubles category by reaching the final of Osaka International Challenge on Saturday.
Arif Latif/Azriyn Ayub who were invited by Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to join for a three-month probation starting April 16, produced some aggressive display to stun No. 7 seeds Inkarat Apisuk/Tanupat Viriyangkura of Thailand 21-16, 23-21 in 35 minutes on Saturday to book their spot in the final.
Azriyn Ayub was pumped up after the victory.
“It’s really exciting as this was the first time we competed at international tournament since 2016,” said Azriyn Ayub.
“Entering the final really motivated me to continue to do well so that I could earn a chance to play for Malaysia in the Thomas Cup for the first time,” added Azriyn Ayub.
“No doubt about it, I really would like to play in the Thomas Cup, but, it’s really up to BAM to make the final decision.”
The Malaysian pair will battle another unseeded pair – Hirokatsu Hashimoto/Hiroyuki Saeki of Japan in the final. The Japanese pair was made to work before coming back from one set down to trounce Min Hyuk Kang/Kim Won Ho of South Korea 17-21, 21-17, 21-18 in 61 minutes.
Besides Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif/Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub, BAM also invited another former BAM player Lim Khim Wah to join the Malaysian national team for the three-month trial.
Since the Thomas & Uber Final will be held in Thailand from May 20, 2018 to May 27, 2018, and, after playing in Osaka, Arif Latif/Azriyn Ayub will play in another tournament in Kagoshima, before returning to Malaysia.
Therefore, BAM only have slightly more than one month to make their decision on Lim Khim Wah, Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif, and Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub.