PETALING JAYA: National doubles shuttler Nur Izzuddin Rumsani is rallying support from the home fans at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Based on the draw released for the men’s team event yesterday, there is a strong possibility the hosts will face top seeds and defending champions Indonesia in the final.
Second seeds Malaysia have been drawn in the lower half of the draw with Singapore, Myanmar and Laos. Malaysia take on Laos in the opening round while Singapore face Myanmar.
Indonesia’s main challenger will be Thailand and they are expected to cross sword in the quarter-finals.
If all goes according to the formbook, a final between Indonesia and Malaysia should pack in the crowd from both countries at the Axiata Arena in KL Sports City, Bukit Jalil.
Malaysia last won the team event at the 2005 Games in the Philippines.
The 19-year-old Izzuddin said he relishes playing in front of the home fans.
At the Malaysian Masters in Sibu in January, Izzuddin and Goh Sze Fei surprised local fans to reach their first career final before going down to Indonesia’s Berry Angriawan-Hardianto Hardianto.
“We’ll have home advantage at the SEA Games and the fans’ support will motivate us to raise our game especially when it’s against Indonesia.”
But first, Izzuddin said they must arrest the decline in their game as they have struggled to find their footing since Sibu.
They played in seven higher-ranked tournaments since their exploits in Sibu but never went beyond the early rounds.
Izzuddin-Sze Fei will get a chance to make amends when they compete in the second-tier New Zealand Open Grand Prix from Aug 1-6 in Auckland.
The other shuttlers in the men’s team are Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Lee Zii Jia, Soong Joo Ven, Lim Chi Wing (singles), Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin, Chan Peng Soon and Goh Soon Huat (doubles).
Malaysia will have a tougher challenge in the women’s team event.
The squad of Goh Jin Wei, Soniia Cheah, Lee Ying Ying, Lim Yin Fun, Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Cheah Yee See and Shevon Lai Jemie are likely to take on favourites Indonesia in the semi-finals.
First round: Indonesia vs Cambodia, Thailand vs Vietnam, Myanmar vs Singapore, Laos vs Malaysia
First round: Thailand bye, Singapore vs Vietnam, Myanmar vs Malaysia, Laos vs Indonesia.