Published: Friday December 27, 2013 MYT 11:53:00 PM
Updated: Saturday December 28, 2013 MYT 12:04:25 AM

Thomas Cup team: Door still open to all

National back-up singles shuttler, Iskandar Zulkarnain can still make the Thomas Cup team next May if he proves his worth in international tournaments. - BERNAMA

National back-up singles shuttler, Iskandar Zulkarnain can still make the Thomas Cup team next May if he proves his worth in international tournaments. - BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA: Good news awaits two back-up shuttlers when the new season unfolds next year.

On Friday, national singles coach Rashid Sidek said there was an opportunity for two back-up shuttlers to make the cut for next year’s Thomas Cup Finals in May in New Delhi.

Based on the overall performances this year, only Lee Chong Wei and Chong Wei Feng have assured their places for the prestigious team event from the men’s singles department.

Liew Daren, who is currently nursing a injury, has withdrawn from the ongoing National Grand Prix Finals at the Putrajaya Precinct 11 Sports Complex and also the season opener Korean Open in Seoul from Jan 8-13.

And Daren’s participation for the Malaysian Open from Jan 15-20 is also pending.

Rashid said the main focus would be given to the back-up shuttlers next year to justify their spots for several major tournaments including the Thomas Cup.

The other major events are the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the World Championships.

“For now, only Chong Wei and Wei Feng have been the most consistent. For a team event like the Thomas Cup, we need at least four good players. With Daren’s situation still hanging in the balance, there is a chance for the back-up shuttlers to step in,” said Rashid.

“The BA of Malaysia have given the green light for back-up shuttlers to compete in about eight to 10 international tournaments next year to prove their worth.

“That is good news as the back-up players had been deprived of international tournaments before. Now, they have more opportunities to showcase their talents,” said Rashid.

Rashid said selection for the Thomas Cup would also be open to independent players.

“Currently in the BAM set-up, Iskandar (Zulkarnain Zainuddin) and (Goh) Soon Huat are the top two back-ups. Soon Huat is back in action after recovering from an injury. The others are Choong Yee Han and Tan Kian Meng,” he said.

“There are other professionals like Tan Chun Seang, Misbun Ramdan Misbun and Zulfadli Zulkifli. Former international Chun Seang did very well this year when he upset Indonesia’s Simon Santoso to show he has not lost his touches.

“Anyone of them can represent the country in the Finals if they prove themselves. The opportunity is there and it is all up to them whether they want it badly,” he added.

On Friday, some of the BAM’s back-up shuttlers like Yee Han and Iskandar got off to a good start in the National Grand Prix Finals when they won their opening group matches.

It was also a good day for independent shuttlers Ramdan, Chun Seang and Zulfadli when they made it past the opening round.


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