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Friday March 29, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 2:14:20 PM
by rajes paul
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian fans have seen the best of Lee Chong Wei at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium (KLBA) in Cheras.
Now, in his absence, two others – Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng – have vowed to step up and give the home crowd a fantastic treat when Malaysia begin their campaign in the return leg of the Axiata Cup, which starts at the same venue today. Malaysia will field either Daren or Wei Feng in the opening match against Singapore today and both have vowed to thrill the home fans if given the mandate to draw first blood.
Wei Feng said that playing on home ground had its ups and downs but “I will use it to my advantage”.
“The atmosphere will surely be different. In Surabaya, the fans jeered us. Here, we will have great home support and I am counting on it to give my best,” said the 25-year-old Wei Feng.
“My most memorable outing in Malaysia was when I reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open last year. I’m hoping to give another good account of myself.”
Wei Feng was given a chance to strut his stuff once in Surabaya – during the tie against Indonesia – but he went down 16-21, 11-21 to Tommy Sugiarto much to the joy of the vociferous and fanatical home fans.
“Tommy is a strong opponent. There are others too like Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and South Korean veteran Lee Hyun-il. They’ll be tough nuts to crack but, hopefully, I’ll be able to win in front of the home fans ... if I’m given the opportunity to play,” said Wei Feng.
Daren admitted that playing at home would be more challenging.
“The pressure to perform will be much higher here compared to Surabaya because everyone will be expecting me to deliver the first point now – just like how Chong Wei normally does. I’ll surely give my best,” he said.
Daren endured mixed fortunes in his debut as the country’s first singles in the first leg of the Axiata Cup in Surabaya. He was fielded in three ties but won twice – against Antonino Benjamin Gadi of the Philippines and Scott Evans of Ireland (Team Europe). He lost the crucial one to Tanongsak.
The others in the Malaysian team are Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Lim Yin Loo and Tee Jing Yi. Chong Wei’s name has also been registered but he prefers to give the youngsters the opportunity to play.
Malaysia are in the running for the semi-finals after finishing third with 11 points in the eight-member field. Only the top four teams in the standings will make it to the elimination round, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur on April 13.
This year’s format of the Axiata Cup is quite intriguing. Each team will play in four events – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles – and every team will gain a point for every match won.
If teams are tied with the same number of points, their positions will be determined by the Badminton World Federation, who will look at the games won by the teams, followed by the points won by the teams.
If the tally is still tied, then the result of the men’s singles will be the deciding factor between the two teams.
Thailand, who are in the lead with 13 points, and Indonesia are favourites to finish as the best two teams based on the depth and determination of their teams.
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Others, Sport, Sport, Sport, Badminton, Axiata Cup, Chong Wei Feng and Liew daren
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