EVEN in the absence of key players, Malaysia should face no issues securing another clean sweep victory today when they face the United States in their second Group D tie of the Thomas Cup in Bangkok.
Following their 5-0 rout of England yesterday, Malaysia are likely to rest world No 6 Lee Zii Jia, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Ng Tze Yong ahead of the much-anticipated group tie against Japan tomorrow.
Instead, World Championships bronze medallist Liew Daren, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi and Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin, who could be handed the third singles duty, are expected to play.
In yesterday’s opening tie, Malaysia hardly broke a sweat, except for Aaron-Wooi Yik and Tze Yong, who were forced to the deciding games in the first doubles and second singles match, after Zii Jia gave them the lead with a comfortable 21-10, 21-15 win over Toby Penty.
World No 7 Aaron-Wooi Yik had to claw back from a game down to see off the stubborn Ben Lane-Sean Vendy 19-21, 21-15, 21-16, while world No 46 Tze Yong had to bounce back from a second-game blemish to notch a 21-16, 19-21, 21-11 win over Johnnie Torjussen.
“I would say it was a good start for us, although we pressured ourselves and lost the first game,” said Aaron.
“That bit, we’re not satisfied, but thankfully we found our rhythm after that. We hope to continue this momentum,” he added.
With the overall tie already in the bag, world No 14 Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani brushed aside Rory Easton-Zach Russ 21-13, 21-9 in just 28 minutes, the quickest match of the tie, before 2018 Asian junior champion Leong Jun Hao wrapped up proceedings with a 21-11, 21-18 win over Cholan Kayan.
In the other Group C tie yesterday, 2014 champions Japan, who were without former world champion Kento Momota and reigning doubles world champions Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi, thrashed the US 5-0.
Tomorrow’s colossal showdown between Japan and Malaysia will decide who tops the group and qualifies for the quarter-finals as one of the four seeded teams.
At the previous edition in Aarhus, Denmark, Malaysia lost 4-1 to Japan in the group stage.
Malaysia last qualified for the quarter-finals as group winners at the 2016 Thomas Cup in Kunshan, China.