South Korea will still be formidable in the doubles despite the the suspension of their star players Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung (left) for missing drugs tests
KUALA LUMPUR: South Korea fielded a weakened men’s doubles line-up at the ongoing Indian Open, but going by their performances they will still pose a big problem for Malaysia at the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.
At the Indian Open, Ko Sung-hyun-Shin Baek-cheol dumped Malaysia’s Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem in the second round while Kim Sa-rang-Yoo Yeon-seong, the Korean No. 2, went down fighting to China’s Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan in the last 16.
The Koreans had to make drastic changes to their line-up when their star players – Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung – were banned for one year by the Badminton World Federation for missing doping tests.
Prior to the ban, Yong-dae was riding high with Sung-hyun while Ki-jung was going great guns with Sa-rang.
In the Finals, Malaysia are in Group C with South Korea, India and Germany.
The top two teams will advance to the knockout stage, but it is important for Malaysia to make the top eight as group champions to avoid seeded teams like China or Indonesia in the quarter-finals.
V Shem, who is ranked 14th in the world with Khim Wah, admitted that they have to raise their game against the Koreans.
“It will not be a smooth ride against the Koreans. In the Indian Open, they put up strong challenges. We really need to work on our game to be able to match them,” said V Shem.
V Shem-Khim Wah’s poor service stood out like a sore thumb in the Indian Open. They also served badly in the final of the Malaysian Open GP Gold in Pasir Gudang last week. The Malaysians were eventually beaten by Singapore’s Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Chayut Triyachart.
Malaysia’s No. 1 Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong are also going through a rough patch and their morale took another beating after losing to China’s unheralded pair Kang Jun-Liu Cheng in the opening round of the Indian Open.