Hendrawan takes over – with a big task

With Datuk Misbun Sidek moving to help the juniors, the men’s singles department of Malaysian badminton has a new head. Hendrawan is now the supremo – but with a caveat.

He has to make Lee Zii Jia (pic) one of the top five players in the world before the Olympic Games.

Hendrawan looks to be the ideal candidate to take over from Misbun who is set to begin his new role in charge of the junior squad next month.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria wants the former Indonesian World Championships silver medallist to step up to his new role as coach.

Norza said it was time for Hendrawan, who has been with the BAM since 2009, to be given a new Key Performance Index (KPI).

“Hendrawan is one of the most experienced coaches in BAM and his new goal is to push Zii Jia into the top five in the world before the Tokyo Games from July 24-Aug 9. He has six months to do it,” said Norza.

“Zii Jia has beaten several top five players in the world recently and I do not see this as an impossible task.”

The 21-year-old Zii Jia started the year by defeating two top-10 players – Anders Antonsen of Denmark (No. 4) and Shi Yuqi of China (No. 8) at the Malaysian Masters.

Last year, he also defeated several other top 10 players – China’s Olympic champion Chen Long, Denmark’s former world champion Viktor Axelsen, and Taiwan’s world No 2 Chou Tien-chen.

“What Zii Jia is lacking now is power and speed. Besides guiding Zii Jia on the skills and strategies of the game, Hendrawan has to focus on the basics like his fitness level too,” said Norza.

Zii Jia, the 2019 SEA Games champion, has been playing in international junior tournaments under Badminton World Federation (BWF) since 2012. He was in the junior ranks for five years before ending in style by winning a silver at the World Junior Championships in Bilbao, Spain, in 2016.

He was promoted to the senior team in 2017 and made good progress in the world rankings under Misbun before being placed under Hendrawan last year.

Zii Jia is currently ranked 13th in the world but his best ranking was 11th which he managed in November last year.

He is in good position to qualify for the Tokyo Games but Norza wants the youngster to be more than just a passenger in the team.

“Being a top five player going into the Olympics will be a good confidence booster for Zii Jia. We want him and the other Malaysian qualifiers to give a good showing and not just be satisfied with qualifying for the Games,” said Norza.

On the appointment of Misbun as the junior squad chief coach, Norza considered it as a good decision.

“Misbun is the ideal person to put all our junior players from the ages of 13-18 on the right path. He is a strict disciplinarian and has years of experience,” said Norza.

“He will be given the run of the junior department, but of course, we will monitor him. There will be a check and balance.”

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