ALOR STAR: Malaysia’s hopes of qualifying for the Thomas Cup on merit took a huge dent when they were edged 3-2 by Thailand in a Group C tie of the Asia Team Championship at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium on Tuesday.
World No 2 Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia won their respective matches but Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi along with India Open semi-finallist Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin failed to raise their game as Thailand recorded a rare win over their fancied opponents.
Malaysia must now beat Myanmar on Wednesday and Taiwan on the following day to reach the quarter-finals.
Only the top four in the tournament will qualify for the Thomas Cup in Bangkok in May.
However, the national men’s team can still make it based on their overall world ranking.
National doubles coach Cheah Soon Kit was disappointed with his pairs.
“V Shem-Wee Kiong made mistakes and paid the price. The Thais grew in confidence and took advantage of the situation,” said Soon Kit.
“I will analyse their matches and also speak to them about the defeat.
“We need to bounce back tomorrow against Myanmar and Taiwan. I will not make any changes to the pairings for both ties.”
Chong Wei recorded an effortless 21-13, 21-9 win over Khosit Phetpradab to hand Malaysia the lead before Thailand won the next match when Kittinupong Kedren-Dechapol Puavaranukroh edged V Shem-Wee Kiong 16-21, 21-19, 22-20.
World No 47 Zii Jia then earned Malaysia a second point by overcoming Suppanyu Avihingsanon 21-14, 21-12.
However, Thailand won the following two matches.
Tinn Isriyanet-Kittisak Namdash overcame Yew Sin-Ee Yi 21-17, 21-11 before World No 51 Kantaphon Wangcharoen defeated 86th-ranked Iskandar 21-13, 21-14.
The national coaches may have made a tactical mistake by fielding Iskandar, who had just returned from New Delhi. They should have opted for World No 63 Soong Joo Ven.
Iskandar said: “There was pressure and I just could not play my game.”
“I did what the coach told me to do but my opponent played very well.
“I am sorry. However, we still have a chance to make the last-eight and I believe we can bounce back,” said Iskandar
In the women’s section, Malaysia defeated Vietnam 4-1 in a Group Y tie but the team may have to reshuffle for the following ties as Woon Khe Wei suffered an injury yesterday.