Goh Soon Huat plays at this year's Malaysian Grand Prix Gold while national singles chief coach Rashid Sidek looks on. Soon Huat came up tops in both selection trials for the Thomas Cup Finals.
WILL the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) shoot themselves in the foot on Saturday?
For the sake of fairplay and justice, let’s hope that the BAM council will make the right decision by naming Goh Soon Huat as the fourth singles player for the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.
After all, Soon Huat did come out tops in the selection trials for Thomas Cup Finals – not once but twice, mind you.
There is no denying that Misbun Ramdan Misbun is a better player – having won five international tournaments abroad and is an aggressive player with immense talent and skill. But, he did lose to Soon Huat in the trials.
So, if BAM were to chose Ramdan instead of Soon Huat, they’ll be sending the wrong message across – that the selection trial is just an exercise in futility.
BAM, however, can accommodate both Soon Huat and Ramdan in the team if they decide to name a five-man singles and five-man doubles squad for the Finals. This will be a win-win solution.
As it stands, five players are already confirmed for the doubles – Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong, Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem and Tan Boon Heong.
But if BAM decide to go for six doubles and four singles, then they’ll have three options: give youngster Ow Yao Han a break; bring back old-timer Koo Kien Keat; or bank on mixed doubles specialist Chan Peng Soon to add depth.
As for the Uber Cup Finals, there should not be any dispute. Former internationals and world No. 24 Ng Hui Lin-Ng Hui Ern should make the team without any opposition.
The selection of the Thomas-Uber Cup Finals squads, however, should not be the only agenda for the day.
BAM should also address the need for a national coaching director to helm the national team.
In the lead-up to the team’s preparations for the Thomas-Uber Cup Finals this year, there was evidence of poor planning and lack of strong leadership in the coaching and training aspects.
This month’s Sabah Open was scrapped because it was too close to the Thomas-Uber Cup Finals. A national coaching director would not have even thought of holding a tournament in the same month as the Finals.
Reigning SEA Games women’s doubles champions Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo almost missed qualifying for this year’s World Championships in Copenhagen because they were not sent to several tournaments this year.
That caused their world ranking to take a hit.
A national coaching director would have made sure that didn’t happen.
The selection trials for the Thomas-Uber Cup Finals were done at one’s whims and fancy. A national coaching director would have put a lot of thought before suggesting it or even executing it.
There is another important issue that deserves a lengthy deliberation by the council on Saturday – the development programme.
Malaysia’s results in the Asian Junior Championships and World Junior Championships were disappointing, to say the least. There were no medals to show for and the problem of finding a successor for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei still stands out like a sore thumb.
Some council members are genuinely concerned about the lack of progress in the sport. So, rather than being silent observers, let’s hope they speak up.