The Malaysian shuttlers are looking good but Aaron Chia has warned his men’s doubles teammates to guard against complacency ahead of Malaysia’s clash against India to determine the Group B winners at the Asia Team Championships.
Malaysia easily secured their spot in the quarter-finals after thrashing minnows Kazakhstan 5-0 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila yesterday.
But Malaysia need to be group champions to land a favourable draw in the knockout stage.
With India boasting a formidable men’s singles line-up led by world No. 11 B. Sai Praneeth and No. 15 K. Srikanth, it is crucial that Malaysia claim both points on offer in the doubles.
India will not get to field their world No. 10 combination of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy as the latter was forced to withdraw at the eleventh hour because of an ankle injury.
Chirag formed a scratch pairing with world No. 27 singles player H. S. Prannoy and they fell to unheralded Kazakhstan opponents in the opening match on Tuesday.
The other pair in the Indian squad are world No. 125 youngsters M. R. Arjun-Dhruv Kapila.
Aaron is refusing to take anything for granted although Malaysia have three established pairs – himself and Soh Wooi Yik, the world No. 8, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (No. 17) and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (No. 25) – at their disposal.
“We cannot be too overconfident because anything can happen in badminton,” said Aaron.
“We always go onto the court without underestimating our opponents. We still have to play our best badminton to win. We are determined to get the two points and we are going to make it happen.”
Aaron believes his singles teammates spearheaded by world No. 14 Lee Zii Jia will be not pushovers against their higher-ranked rivals.
The other three men’s singles members are Cheam June Wei (No. 72), Ng Tze Yong (No. 137) and Leong Jun Hao (No. 179).
“Our guys may be outranked by the Indians, but never say never. I have faith in them, together we will overcome India and top Group B,” he said.
As expected, Malaysia bulldozed past Kazakhstan with captain Zii Jia picking up the first point with a 21-6, 21-12 win over world No. 263 Dmitry Panarin.
June Wei too easily dispatched Artur Niyazov 21-15, 21-11 before Jun Hao put the result beyond doubt by triumphing 21-13, 21-13 over Khaimurat Kulmatov.
Kazakhstan, playing the tournament with only six shuttlers, fielded Niyazov-Panarin as their first doubles. Aaron-Wooi Yik barely broke a sweat to claim a 21-11, 21-11 win in just 19 minutes.
Sze Fei-Izzuddin then completed the rout by defeating Nikita Bragin-Kulmatov 21-9, 21-4.
The Malaysian women’s team will also be in action today, taking on Japan in Group W.
Regardless of the outcome, Malaysia will join the Uber Cup champions in the knockout stage after Hong Kong pulled out of the tournament due immigration restrictions imposed by the Philippines government in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Still, the team led by Soniia Cheah have been tasked to give their illustrious rivals a run for their money.