KUALA LUMPUR: Determination has landed national men’s singles back-up shuttler Goh Soon Huat a place in the Thomas Cup squad for the first time.
The 24-year-old played a more aggressive game to beat former national champion Misbun Ramdan Misbun 21-19, 21-15 in the Thomas Cup selection trials - held for the second time - at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara on Tuesday.
With his win, Soon Huat has now proven twice that he is the best player to represent the country as the fourth-ranked men’s singles player for the Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.
He will join three others - world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng and Daren Liew.
Soon Huat also emerged tops in the first selection trials held last month, where he beat former internationals Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Tan Chun Seang. However, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) had decided to hold the second selection trials to accommodate Ramdan and former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli who were ill at the time.
Soon Huat was happy to come through the selection process again.
“I will not be the sparring player again in the Finals,” quipped Soon Huat, who had accompanied the team to the last Finals in Wuhan in 2012 as a sparring player.
“It was not an easy match against Ramdan. I changed my style of play and was more aggressive in my approach and I guess it worked for me,” he said.
In January this year, Soon Huat had lost narrowly to Ramdan in the qualifying tournament of the Malaysian Open at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil. And naturally, a neck-and-neck battle was expected this time around, but Soon Huat tore Ramdan apart and crushed the latter’s dream of becoming the next one from his famous Sidek family to play in the team event.
Ramdan’s father Misbun and four uncles Rashid, Jalani, Razif and Rahman had represented Malaysia at various Thomas Cup Finals before.
Although Soon Huat’s position will be as a reserve on the team, he has promised to be ready to play.
“I will not take my place on the team for granted. I hope to be ready to play at any time. Anything can happen in the team event and I need to be on my toes,” he said.
“I remember, two years ago, Chong Wei was injured and the reserve had to step in.”
In Wuhan, Chong Wei hurt his ankle against Peter Gade Christensen in a group tie against Denmark but Malaysia went on to beat the Danes 3-2 to enter the quarter-finals.
Without Chong Wei against China in the quarter-finals, Malaysia fielded Daren, Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Wei Feng but were whitewashed 3-0.
Meanwhile, national coach Hendrawan said that Soon Huat’s name would be submitted to BAM for endorsement at their meeting on Saturday.