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Wednesday November 14, 2012

Top seed Hafiz just wants to have fun in last tourney

KUALA LUMPUR: Former All-England champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim is the top seed in the Malaysia International Challenge starting at Unimas Indoor Stadium, Kuching, today – but he may turn out to be an easy prey if his current form is anything to go by.

The Malaysia International Challenge is his first tournament since he aggravated an injury on his Achilles tendon after the China Masters in September.

“This is my last tournament for the year and my first appearance in two months. I just want to have some fun and see where I stand as far as my form is concerned. I have not set any targets although I am the top seed,” said Hafiz.

“I have taken steroid jabs to numb the pain. This is an old injury which flares up once a while.”

Hafiz, who has nothing much to shout about in terms of results except for a semi-final finish at the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold in June, said he would give himself one more year to see if he can succeed in the sport.

“It all depends on my foot. If I am able to bear the pain, I’ll give it a shot in 2013,” he said.

If Hafiz hangs up his racquet, he will take up coaching.

He had spent three weeks in Pune, India, as a coach with a club in August and conducts private coaching in his free time.

“The India coaching stint was a good experience. I had to come out with the training programme for the academy ... felt like a chief coach,” he joked.

“I’m also doing some private coaching. It’s quite fun and something that I may fall back on. I do not have my own centre right now but I might look into starting one.”

In the Malaysian International Challenge, a host of back-up shuttlers who used to look up to him during his glory days, are eyeing Hafiz’s scalp.

They include seventh seed Goh Soon Huat, Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub, Chan Kwong Beng, Zulfadli Zulkifli, second seed Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Misbun Ramdan Misbun, Loh Wei Sheng, Goh Giap Chin, Tan Kian Meng and Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin.

Hafiz is the third notabable former international in the tournament – with the others being Wong Choong Hann and Kuan Beng Hong.

Former national No. 1 Choong Hann, who is ranked 218th in the world, has not played in any international tournaments since his first round defeat in the Vietnam Open in August.

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