Rexy Mainaky
05/05/2024 05:16 PM
Amiril Muttaqien Meketar
Mohd Nazirul Mohamed Roselan (pix)
05/05/2024 05:16 PM

CHENGDU, May 5 (Bernama) -- Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) coaching director Rexy Mainaky wants Malaysia to field a stronger men's singles lineup to give a tougher fight at the 2026 Thomas Cup Finals in Horsens, Denmark.

He said this would make the national a more balanced outfit in Denmark since the men's doubles pairs are more stable compared to the current singles lineup.

"Our players must be more firm. Honestly speaking, we were hoping to steal a point from one of the men's singles ties and win both the doubles matches.

"We knew Lee Zii Jia would feel the pressure but if we had players of equal quality for the second and third singles, perhaps there would be less pressure (on the first singles player),” he told the Malaysian media at the team hotel here today.

He said their reliance on Zii Jia was one of the reasons for the team's 3-1 capitulation to China in yesterday's semi-finals, which dashed Malaysia's hopes of ending their 32-year Thomas Cup title drought.

In yesterday's semi-finals at the Chengdu High-Tech Zone Sports Centre in China, Zii Jia lost the first singles to Shi Yu Qi 19-21, 5-21 while second singles shuttler Leong Jun Hao went down 17-21, 10-21 to Li Shi Feng.

As such, Rexy said the coaches will reevaluate their training programmes as well as the attitude of the players to ensure the singles players are not lagging behind other countries.

Currently, only professional shuttler Zii Jia is ranked top 10 in the world while Ng Tze Yong, who is the top player under the auspices of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is ranked 18th.

Besides Zii Jia, the other three men's singles shuttlers named for this year's Thomas Cup campaign are ranked much lower, with Jun Hao ranked 37th, professional shuttler Cheam June Wei (63rd) and Justin Hoh (233rd).

Tze Yong had to skip the Thomas Cup Finals this time as he has yet to recover from a back injury.

Rexy also hopes that young shuttlers like Eogene Ewe and Ong Ken Yon will still have the desire and hunger for success by improving their performances, thereby further strengthening the national team's singles camp.

Malaysia began their Thomas Cup Group D campaign with 5-0 wins over Hong Kong and Algeria but failed to top the group after losing 3-2 to Denmark.

On Thursday (May 2), five-time champions Malaysia brushed aside Japan 3-1 to advance to the semi-finals for the first time after eight years.

Meanwhile, Rexy said that women's singles players like K. Letshanaa and Wong Ling Ching must emulate the fighting spirit of professional shuttler Goh Jin Wei, who continued to play with fire in her belly despite having to contend with stomach-related health issues.

"Despite her (health) condition, Jin Wei fought hard when fielded. This is the kind of mentality that our women shuttlers must possess. She even told me that only had one meal a day, but it's the players who had five meals a day who played less energetically,” he said.

He also did not rule out the possibility of retaining the partnership of Teoh Mei Xing and Go Pei Kee, who produced a positive performance in Chengdu.

Malaysia have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Uber Cup since 2010. They lost twice in Group B, going down 4-1 to Taiwan and 5-0 to Thailand, before ending the group campaign with a 4-1 win over Australia.