Goh Soon Huat will be one of three national men's singles shuttlers competing in the Asian Badminton Championships in South Korea starting on Wednesday. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Without a single top-20 shuttler in their ranks, the Malaysian camp is expected to return home empty-handed when the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) start in Gimcheon, South Korea, on Wednesday.
Last year, the likes of Chong Wei Feng and men’s doubles pair Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah did a decent job by making the semi-finals before finishing with a bronze medal each.
The 26-year-old Wei Feng, who is expected to compete as second singles in the Thomas Cup in New Delhi next month, has withdrawn from the ABC with an injury while the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have also pulled out V Shem-Khim Wah and world No. 7 men’s doubles pair Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong as well as world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.
This was done despite knowing that they’ll have to fork out a US$2,000 (RM6,500) fine because both pairs and Chong Wei are not injured.
The last Malaysian shuttlers to have tasted success at the ABC were mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying. The pair won in 2010 but are not competing this year.
So, it will be a daunting challenge for the likes of Liew Daren, Goh Soon Huat and youngster Chong Yee Han to come away with good results.
Daren, the 2012 French Open champion who has slipped to No. 63 in the world due to injuries and poor form, faces the much-improved Lee Dong-keun of South Korea in the first round.
A win over the world No. 31 will pit Daren against top seed and world No. 8 Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand in the second round.
World No. 149 Soon Huat and No. 179 Yee Han will face the experienced P. Kashyap of India and Sho Sasaki of Japan respectively in the first round.
But the spotlight will certainly be on two-time winner Lin Dan, who announced his return from almost a year of inactivity with a bang by winning the China Masters last week.
The five-time world champion, who is also expected to be named in China’s Thomas Cup squad, will meet Singapore Open semi-finalist K. Srikanth of India in the first round.
In men’s doubles, the absence of V Shem-Khim Wah and Thien How-Wee Kiong means the onus is now on Low Juan Shen-Nelson Heg and Chooi Kah Ming-Teo Ee Yi to deliver.
Juan Shen-Nelson face India’s Attri Manu-B. Sumeeth Reddy in the first round while Ee Yi-Kah Ming are up against Taiwan’s Liang Jui-wei-Liao Kuan-hao.
Malaysia will rely on Lim Yin Fun, Lim Chiew Sien and Yang Li Lian in the women’s singles and three pairs – Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei, Amelia Alicia Anscelly-Soong Fie Cho and Lee Meng Yean-Lim Yin Loo – in the women’s doubles.
None of them, however, are expected to make much of an impact in their categories, which should be dominated by shuttlers from China, Japan and South Korea.