BY: Michelle Liew
The Thomas Cup has ended with Indonesia defeating the reigning champions China to claim the cup once again after 19 years. Team Indonesia had defeated Malaysia during the quarterfinals 3-0, before defeating the host Denmark 3-1 to reach the finals.
The Malaysian squad has shown impeccable performance throughout the back-to-back prestigious tournaments in the last month. The team managed to reach the semi-finals in the recent Sudirman Cup in Finland after defeating the Indonesian team 3-2 in the quarterfinals, but its rivals have bounced back proven itself too strong for our local fresh talents in the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup in Denmark.
Despite the contrast in experience compared to the Indonesian team, the Malaysian squad has continuously improved and national coaching director Wong Choong Hann has stressed that the inconsistent performance by top shuttlers Lee Zii Jia and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik is not a cause for concern. Wong himself was the first Malaysian to win a medal in the men’s singles event at the BWF World Championships
Wong has served a reminder that the trios are not ‘finished products’ and so, they are bound to experience ups and downs in the process of becoming the best. The trio failed to replicate the same form in they had in the Sudirman Cup, which led them to a bronze medal finish.
World No. 8 Zii Jia was unable to win in his rematch with World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan and World No. 5 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. World No 9 Aaron-Wooi Yik too lost to World No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Gideon and World No. 14 Yugo Kobayashi-Takuro Hoki, whom they had beaten in Vantaa, Finland.
“We certainly had high expectations on them as they are the new leaders of this youthful side,” said Choong Hann.
“But this does not mean they are ‘perfect products’ already.
“Obviously, we were hoping for them to put up a fine performance to win us the points, but despite trying their best, it was still not enough.
“There were shortcomings in their performances, but it doesn’t mean that they have become incompetent players all of the sudden.”
“We’re gathering all the data so that we can focus specifically on the areas that we need to improve,” said Choong Hann.
“I strongly believe that we have the resources and capabilities to help the players overcome their shortfalls so that they can be more ready in the future tournaments.”
“We will definitely set a more challenging target for the next Thomas Cup as we do have enough time to beef up both our singles and doubles departments,” he added.
“We need to double up our improvement rate because that would be the determining factor. Yes we’re improving, but so are our opponents. So, we have to buck up faster, that’s the only way for us to be more ready and mount a stronger challenge at the next edition.”
Malaysia last won the Thomas Cup at the 1992 edition in Kuala Lumpur, defeating rival Indonesia 3-2, courtesy of Rashid Sidek, Foo Kok Keong and Cheah Soon Kit-Soo Beng Kiang. A fun fact to know is that Soo Beng Kiang is the maternal uncle of Soh Wooi Yik!
It is important that Malaysians continue to support our local players in order to help them propel to greater heights.