ALOR STAR: The Malaysian men’s squad are through to the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Team championship, and assured of an automatic qualification to the Thomas Cup finals in Bangkok in May, after their 3-0 win over Hong Kong in the quarter-finals at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium in Alor Star today.
Two years ago, after failing to make it past the quarter-finals of the Asian meet — which served as a qualifier — in Hyderabad, Malaysia were forced to rely on world rankings to book their spot in the Thomas Cup.
Former World No 1 Lee Chong Wei was delighted to have played a key role in encouraging his teammates when he delivered the first point for the team.
“Of course it wasn’t easy as I had to face a tough opponent in the first match. Regardless, a win is still a win,” said Chong Wei following his 21-15, 21-16 win over Angus Ng Ka Long.
As Malaysia have already achieved their target of qualifying on merit for the Thomas Cup, Chong Wei will now leave it to his coaches to decide on whether to play him in the semi-finals or not.
“They (coaches) will look at the situation first, and perhaps allow some of the younger players to gain experience before the Thomas Cup in Bangkok,” added Chong Wei.
Top men’s doubles Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong chalked up a comfortable 21-11, 21-16 win over Or Chin Chung-Tang Chun Man, to put Malaysia ahead 2-0.
“Our game was almost perfect today. We’re happy to have contributed a point,” said Wee Kiong.
Kedah-born third singles Lee Zii Jia then produced a classy performance to seal Malaysia’s victory by overcoming Vincent Wong 21-16, 21-15.
“I’m glad because I got to deliver the winning point. I’m also happy because I got to follow our president’s (Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria) advice, which was to play confidently and fear no one.
“As for my strategy and game tactics for the semi-finals, I will discuss them with my coaches. So far I’ve been playing the same way,” said Zii Jia.
Malaysia will face favourites China next for a place in the final.
RESULTS — Quarter-finals, Men’s: China 3 India 1, Malaysia 3 Hong Kong 0, South Korea 3 Thailand 1, Indonesia 3 Japan 0.
Women’s: Japan 3 Taiwan 0, Indonesia 3 India 1, China 3 Thailand 1, South Korea 3 Malaysia 0.
Translated from Harian Metro