Nugroho (right) and Muhammad Syawal can contribute important points for their team during the knockout phase starting Thursday.
Ampang Jaya Badminton Club (BC) will rest their SS Purple League 2016/17 title hopes on their two new import players during the SSPL 2016/17 Stage 2 to be held at the Arena of Stars, Resorts World Genting this week.
Ampang Jaya BC who finished fifth in Stage 1, strengthened their team by bringing in two new faces from India and Vietnam as they are looking forward to go far in the knockout stage of this season’s SSPL.
“We are still in the process of correcting our flaws especially in the Men’s Singles as we prepare for the knockout stage. Which is why during the transfer window, we brought in two new import players, Ajay Jayaram from India and Nguyen Tien Minh from Vietnam, as we hope it will strengthen our team,” said Ampang Jaya head coach, Ho Khek Mong.
Khek Mong predicted a close encounter in their first knockout match against Puchong United which invested heavily in strengthening their side. He has also accepted that his Ampang Jaya side will be the underdogs in that match.
“It will be too hard to call. I foresee a 50-50 chance against Puchong United as they are really strong in the singles category whereas we are confident that our doubles pairs especially Lukhi Nugroho and Muhammad Syawal can contribute important points for us,” said Khek Mong when contacted earlier.
“That is the main reason for us bringing in new singles players as we are hoping to cause upsets in that category.
“We are also expecting some consistency from our doubles pairs. Anyhow, I am just hoping that our players will play well and give their best shot,” added Khek Mong.
According to the coach, the presence of the new players will not only be beneficial in the team’s title chase but also plays a significant role as they can share their experiences and skills with the club’s junior players.
“They will arrive a week before the knockout stage kicks off. Then, they will train with our junior players to nurture them into better players in future,” added Khek Mong.
Ampang Jaya finished seventh last season. Muar City BC was crowned champions, Petaling Jaya BC came in second while the second runner-up spot went to Puchong United BC.
As for this season, six teams have qualified for the knockout stage – Muar BC, Bandar Utama Dragons BC, Puchong United BC, Petaling Jaya BC, Ampang Jaya BC and Petaling BC.
They will battle it out in Stage 2, which is the knockout stage to be the champions of SSPL this season from Feb 9 to 12 at the Arena of Stars, Resorts World Genting.
The remaining bottom four teams – Kepong BC, Serdang BC, Bangsar Hawks BC and Klang City BC will play each other to determine 7th to 10th placing.