Goh Soon Huat in a file photo. BAM have chosen him as the fourth singles player in the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi.
PETALING JAYA: Good sense prevailed when the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) named Goh Soon Huat as the fourth singles player for the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.
The badminton community was on tenterhooks waiting for BAM’s decision as there had been talk that they would heed world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s suggestion that Misbun Ramdan Misbun be included because he is more aggressive and has won five international tournaments so far.
On Saturday, it all came down to honouring their word at their council meeting and BAM went with the winner of the two selection trials.
Soon Huat, who had beaten Ramdan twice in the selection trials, has yet to prove himself outside the country. But BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff believes Soon Huat has vindicated BAM’s faith in him.
Soon Huat will join Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren in the singles, while BAM have entered six doubles players – Tan Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How, Lim Khim Wah, Goh V Shem, Tan Wee Kiong and Chan Peng Soon – to complete the 10-member strong Thomas Cup squad.
“It’s a decision the council members were unanimous on and we were transparent. We wanted the best athletes to go. After looking at the physical condition report and the report from the coaches that he put in a lot of hard work, we opted for Soon Huat,” said Tengku Mahaleel, adding that centralised training will start on Monday.
“The shuttlers will check in tomorrow and they will stay together with the coaches to encourage team-building before they leave for New Delhi on May 15.”
The team have been finalised but the expectations have been toned down compared to previous editions considering the lack of depth this time.
Realistically Malaysia do not have a chance at all to contend for the title and Tengku Mahaleel admitted their target is to reach the semi-finals.
“We would like to win but the reality is we are the underdogs this time. But I would like to challenge the players to perform beyond their capabilities.”
Malaysia are in Group C with South Korea, Germany and India.
Only the top two teams from the group will advance to the quarter-finals.
Two years ago, at the Finals in Wuhan, China, Malaysia lost 3-0 to the hosts in the quarter-finals.
Tengku Mahaleel also defended the decision to send their women’s doubles shuttlers to Kelantan to train for three days.
The stint involved reigning SEA Games champions Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo, Amelia Anscelly-Soong Fie Cho and Lee Meng Yean-Lim Yin Loo, who have been picked as the doubles players for the Uber Cup Finals taking place in New Delhi at the same time.
“We got the coaches to work on different game plans as well as improve their service.”
Besides the six doubles players, the singles players going to the Finals are Tee Jing Yee, Yang Li Lian, Lim Chiew Sien and Lim Yin Fun.