Thomas Cup q-final target realistic - Rashid Sidek

Datuk Rashid Sidek
13/09/2021 08:26 PM

By Amiril Muttaqien Meketar

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 -- Since Malaysia will be sending a youthful team to the Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark next month, national badminton legend Datuk Rashid Sidek feels that the quarter-final target set for them is realistic indeed.

This, he said, was because other than 2021 All England champion Lee Zii Jia and Tokyo Olympics men’s doubles bronze medallists Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, the others in the squad are still young and “raw” when it comes to competing at the highest international level.

“Most of the shuttlers lack experience and exposure… some of them are still not ready to play at the international level. So, to me, the target this time is realistic. 

“If they exceed the target and reach the semi-finals, it will be good and a bonus for them,” he told Bernama when commenting on the Thomas Cup Finals to be held from Oct 9-17.

However, Rashid, who was a member of the Malaysian squad that last won the Thomas Cup back in 1992 in Kuala Lumpur, said what was more important was that the players should use the opportunity to gain as much experience as possible.

Rashid, who coached Cheah Liek Hou to win gold in the men’s singles SU5 (physical impairment) category at the recently-concluded Tokyo Paralympics, said the national shuttlers should also be smart enough to seize the opportunity to develop their level of maturity at the international level. 

“Winning and losing is part of the game but what is important is to gain as much experience as possible. It will be a great loss if the shuttlers do not use the opportunity provided by putting up an excellent performance at the Finals,” he said.

The average age of the shuttlers bound for the Thomas Cup is 23 years, with five players aged 24.

Apart from Zii Jia, the other singles shuttlers are Ng Tze Yong, Cheam June Wei, Leong Jun Hao and Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin. In doubles, apart from Aaron-Wooi Yik, the others are Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzudin Rumsani, Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun and reserve Low Hang Yee.

Meanwhile, former national shuttler Tan Boon Heong just wants the shuttlers to show a high level of team spirit at the Finals, which will be held at the Ceres Arena. 

Boon Heong, who partnered Hoon Thien How in men’s doubles when Malaysia finished runners-up in the 2014 Thomas Cup edition in New Delhi, India, admitted to not placing very high hopes on the current squad except for them to give it their best in Denmark.

Malaysia, who are the seventh seeds, have been drawn in Group D with 2018 runners-up Japan, England and Canada.

Meanwhile, the average age of the national shuttlers bound for Uber Cup Finals, to be held at the same venue simultaneously, is 21 and captain Lee Meng Yean, 27, is the most senior player.

S.Kisona, the 2019 Philippines SEA Games champion, will head the Uber Cup squad in women’s singles together with Eoon Qi Xuan, K. Letshanaa and Siti Nurshuhaini Azman while the doubles pairs will be represented by Meng Yean-Go Pei Kee, Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah and Yap Ling-Teoh Mei Xing.

The national Uber Cup squad have been handed a tough task at the group stage after being drawn in Group D with 14-time champions China, hosts Denmark and Canada.