Sunday, 30 March 2014 | MYT 10:48 PM
Thomas Cup: Malaysia get Germany, South Korea and India
Lin Dan with the 2012 Thomas Cup trophy in a filepic. China will once again be the strong favourites for this year's Thomas Cup.
PASIR GUDANG: Malaysia’s strength as a team may have been diluted but there is still a good chance for them to reach at least the quarter-finals of the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.
This is Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Ng Chin Chai’s assessment after the draw for the prestigious team event was released on Sunday.
Malaysia have been drawn in Group C with South Korea, Germany and India.
Malaysia have not finalised their team but Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren, Goh Soon Huat, Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong, Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem, Tan Boon Heong and, most likely, his partner Ow Yao Han are set to make the trip.
Chin Chai said that Malaysia could top Group C by riding on the strength of the ever-dependable Chong Wei and two doubles pairs, although they have been inconsistent of late.
“I’m quite confident that we can enter the quarter-finals. In fact, based on team strength in our group, we have a chance to be group champions,” said Chin Chai.
“South Korea will be without two of their top doubles players (Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung). I think our top singles players – Chong Wei and Wei Feng are more superior than Shon Wan-ho and Lee Dong-keun.”
Yong-dae and Ki-jung, who partnered Ko Sung-hyun and Kim Sa-rang respectively, are serving one-year bans for their no-show during a doping test.
Although Malaysia went down to a shocking defeat to Germany in the Sudirman Cup last year, Chin Chai believes than Chong Wei and Co are stronger than the European team in the men’s team event.
“The Sudirman Cup is different because it’s a mixed team event. In the men’s team, I think we have better depth compared to the Germans,” said Chin Chai.
“India’s men’s singles players have improved but we can still take one point through Chong Wei. Our men’s doubles are better and should take two points.”
Chin Chai said that it was important for Malaysia to become group champions in order to avoid other seeded teams – like defending champions China or the much-improved Indonesia.
“The top two teams will advance to the knockout stage where a fresh draw will be made but the top four seeded teams will be in different quarters,” he said.
“It is best that we become group champions and avoid the seeded teams in the quarter-finals. If everything goes well, I believe we can even make it to the semis.”
Malaysia were beaten 3-0 by China in the quarter-finals two years ago in Wuhan. Then, Chong Wei did not play against China after injuring his ankle while playing against Peter-Gade Christensen during a group tie against Denmark.
In the Uber Cup Finals, Malaysia’s women’s team are in Group D with Japan, Denmark and Germany and it will be a tall order for them to make the top eight as one of the top two teams from the group.