Thursday, May 20, 2010

Malaysia's Thomas Cup Campaign

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Local badminton enthusiasts must surely have been terribly heartbroken to see Malaysia fall easily to China in the semi-finals of the recent Thomas Cup, and that too at our own home. After so much hope, to see our team fall pitifully without giving even a decent fight does not augur well for the future of the national badminton side.

The results

Malaysia's results

Malaysia were handicapped in a sense that they did not play Nigeria, their first opponents in the group stage who did not even arrive in Kuala Lumpur to take part without any reasons given. That was very unsporting of Nigeria as it did not allow Malaysia to have a warm up.

Anyway, next up were Japan who Malaysia had never lost before in the history of the Thomas Cup. Too bad for us though as the history books had to be rewritten.

In the quarter-finals, Malaysia faced Denmark. Some journalists had earmarked Denmark as plausible champions of this edition of the Thomas Cup, but it was not to be. The match seemed to be lost after the tie came down to the third singles, but somehow, Hafiz Hashim conjured some magic to down Joachim Persson.

Things were never looking good as Malaysia faced China in the semi-finals. Lin Dan always had the upper hand over Lee Chong Wei in important international meets, while Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong always succumbed under pressure. And that was exactly what happened. Malaysia were whitewashed ruthlessly by China.

What went wrong?

Wong Choon Han

Everyone could see that Malaysia’s Achilles heel was their second and third singles players. Wong Choon Han is way past his prime, whilst Hafiz Hashim is just about as unpredictable as he can be. If only we had someone as capable as Lee Chong Wei in second singles, things could have been different.

This caused an over-dependency on Chong Wei and Koo-Tan, which resulted in them having to bear a tremendous load of pressure. Inevitably, this was what undid them, for they had to win or else Malaysia’s hopes were as good as lost.

Where do we stand?

Officially, Malaysia were ranked in third place behind China and Indonesia and ahead of Denmark, South Korea and Japan for the Thomas Cup. However, that seems to be marginally misplaced, especially after having lost shockingly to Japan and barely scraping past Denmark.

If nothing is done, and if the players don’t pull up their socks and buck up, then we could very well be behind all the other five countries by the time we line up for the next Thomas Cup in two years time.

What is to be done?

Iskandar Zulkarnian

It is obvious that Malaysia need to invest in younger singles players such as Iskandar Zulkarnian who have done well in the junior stage and should forget about those who have lost their touch such as Choon Han and Hafiz.

The doubles department, on the other hand, actually have enough raw talent to fly Malaysia’s flag high but what is lacking is a strong mental belief and some much needed consistency.

When we have those things settled, then it would be safe to say that Malaysia can have a realistic shot at wresting back the Thomas Cup.

What's your opinion on Malaysia's performance during the recent Thomas Cup? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
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