KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will head into the Thomas Cup in Bangkok next week brimming with confidence after securing their best outing in 12 years at the recent Badminton Asia Championships (BAC) in Manila.
World No 7 Lee Zii Jia led the way by winning the men’s singles event, while Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Nur Izzuddin Rumsani-Goh Sze Fei were runners-up and semi-finalists in the men’s doubles.
Overall, Malaysia finished third with a 1-1-1 haul, behind China (3-1-2) and Indonesia (1-1-3).
It was the country’s best haul since the 2012 New Delhi edition, where Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying won the mixed doubles event while Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei claimed a surprise silver in the women’s doubles.
The outcome could not have come at a better time as Malaysia seek to mount a strong challenge in the Thomas Cup from May 8-15.
But the big question is whether Malaysia can translate this positive momentum into glory in Bangkok and bring back the coveted trophy after 30 years.
Datuk Razif Sidek, the captain of Malaysia’s 1992-winning team, believes the Zii Jia-led team are capable of going far in Bangkok.
“Kudos to Zii Jia, Aaron-Wooi Yik and Sze Fei-Izzuddin on their podium finishes. They have just proven that they are among the best players in the continent, and that is a great achievement,” said Razif.
“Hopefully, they can carry the same momentum into the Thomas Cup. I am sure these results will offer confidence during the competition.
“The team competition poses a different challenge and atmosphere altogether. It takes a very united team to win the Thomas Cup.”
With Zii Jia coming of age and the team having three formidable pairs, including Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, at their disposal, Malaysia stand a fighting chance.
“There are not many teams who boast three strong pairs, besides Indonesia. We can certainly ride on our men’s doubles strength this time.
“If we want to do well, we must get two points from the doubles,” said Razif.
On Aaron-Wooi Yik’s meltdown defeat to Indonesia’s Yeremia Rambita-Pramudya Kusumawardana in the final, Razif said it is not a cause for concern.
“Aaron-Wooi Yik were not that bad. They just couldn’t believe they had squandered the first game, which was for them to lose and did not recover from it.
“It’s rectifiable. Rexy Mainaky (BAM coaching director) has the experience to help them get back on their feet for the Thomas Cup.”
Just a month before the 1992 Thomas Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Razif-Jalani and Rashid were crowned Asian champions.
Rashid and Razif-Jalani delivered double joy from the men’s singles and men’s doubles. Will history repeat itself? It will all be answered in Bangkok.