Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah in a file photo. The duo helped Malaysia make it to the final tie in the 2002 Thomas Cup Finals.
PETALING JAYA: It has been 12 years since Malaysia last featured in the final tie of the Thomas Cup Finals and former doubles specialist Lee Wan Wah does not expect the drought to end when the 2014 edition starts in New Delhi on Sunday.
Wan Wah partnered Choong Tan Fook to form the first doubles pair at the 2002 edition in Guangzhou, helping to take Malaysia into the Thomas Cup final after delivering the winning point (3-1) in the semi-final tie against hosts China.
Malaysia ran out of steam in the final, going down 2-3 to Indonesia but Wan Wah feels it is still an achievement the current batch will find hard to repeat.
Malaysia and Japan are the joint third-fourth seeds behind top seeds Indonesia and second seeded China, who are the title holders.
Malaysia have been placed in a tricky Group C with 2012 losing finalists South Korea, India and Germany.
Malaysia open against hosts India on Sunday and take on Germany on Monday.
But it is the encounter against the South Koreans on Wednesday that will be the most crucial and likely to determine the group winners.
The four group winners will be separated in the draw and not face each other until the semi-finals.
“A fresh draw will be done from the quarter-finals. If we can beat the South Koreans, we can stay longer in the competition. We will avoid playing teams like China and Indonesia.
“But the Koreans have always been dangerous in doubles. They are capable of putting up good scratch combinations. The problem is the current squad is not as balanced as in my time.
“It’s important for us to get two points from the singles and one from the doubles to have any chance of winning the group.
“I feel it’s not easy as our players are not consistent, except for (Lee) Chong Wei.
“It’s been some time since we made the final but I think our record should be safe,” said the 38-year-old in jest.
Apart from world No. 1 Chong Wei, Malaysia have Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren and Goh Soon Huat in the singles.
World number seven Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah are the regular doubles pairings but the coaches are likely to split them up for the current campaign given that they have included mixed doubles specialist Chan Peng Soon and the vastly experienced Tan Boon Heong this time.
Malaysia fell 1-3 to China at the last Thomas Cup Finals in Wuhan two years ago.