No fear, we will fight Japan - Choong Hann
From R. Vikneswaran
AARHUS (Denmark), Oct 13 -- After confirming the ticket to the quarter-finals of the Thomas Cup by beating Canada 5-0 last night (early Wednesday morning in Malaysia), the national squad are determined to show the same fighting spirit against Japan on Thursday morning (2.30 pm Malaysian time).
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann said the national shuttlers will continue to fight in the tough tie against the 2018 runners-up, in the last Group D match at the Ceres Arena, here.
"Meeting Japan, the answer is simple, we will fight ... We came to teach our young players that we cannot give up easily, we will take every opportunity here to challenge any giant.
"If we teach this kind of mindset and culture, but we do differently, for me it is not compatible, so we will take the fight until the end against Japan," he said.
The former world number one said the coaches would plan a suitable strategy in coming up with the national line-up, including whether to maintain the pairing of Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik.
On paper, Japan, led by world number one Kento Momota, are considered the favourite as they have a line-up of singles players like Kanta Tsuneyama (13), Kenta Nishimoto (16) and Koki Watanabe (43).
In the doubles department, although three key players -Takeshi Kamura, Keigo Sonoda and Hiroyuki Endo -have retired after Japan's disappointing outing at the Tokyo Olympics, the national squad of the Land of the Rising Sun still have strong options such as the world's 16th ranked doubles pair Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi, Yuta Watanabe and Akira Koga to provide a fierce challenge.
Five-time champions Malaysia' are 'underdogs' in this edition as the squad is lined up with young players led by world number eight Lee Zii Jia, who is seen to be able to overcome Momota, after winning two of this year's three meetings with him, in the All England and Sudirman Cup .
"I think Momota will make good preparations for tomorrow, and of course I will do my part, will do my best. I don't think it's possible for Japan (to take the risk) to field Kanta," said Zii Jia.
Although Zii Jia and Aaron-Soh Yik are seen as capable of scoring points for Malaysia, but to overcome Japan, the second and third singles will most likely be shouldered by Leong Jun Hao, Cheam June Wei or Ng Tze Yong, besides second doubles Goh Sze Fei- Nur Izzudin Rumsani needed to play to steal points.
Japan and Malaysia have already secured slots in the quarterfinals after beating Canada 4-1 and 5-0 respectively following England, who were in the group, withdrawing from the championship. The Malaysia-Japan tie will determine the group champions.