PETALING JAYA: Former internationals Wong Choong Hann and Ong Ewe Hock are quietly confident that Malaysia’s 22-year wait for the elusive Thomas Cup title will finally end on Sunday when they take on Japan.
Choong Hann and Ewe Hock were members of the team who last reached the final in Guangzhou in 2002.
The others in the team were Lee Tsuen Seng, Hashim brothers – Roslin and Hafiz, Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng. Ironically, the team were under the guidance of chief coach Park Joo-bong and the late Indra Gunawan of Indonesia at that time.
Joo-bong is now Japan’s head coach.
Then, Choong Hann had played as the first singles while Ewe Hock was the team captain. Despite staging a great fight, they failed to bring home the Cup, which was last won in 1992.
Malaysia defeated China 3-1 in the semi-finals but lost 2-3 to Indonesia in the final.
Choong Hann said that a pumped up Malaysian team - comprising Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren, Goh Soon Huat, Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong, Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem and Tan Boon Heong-Chan Peng Soon - have a chance to turn heroes against Japan on Sunday.
“The team went into the Finals as the underdog but that tag has suited them well. They have been playing well in every tie without any pressure. The rise of Wei Feng has made the difference for the team,” said Choong Hann.
“Initially, the burden was only on Chong Wei but this time, everyone has played their role. Even the men’s doubles players have stepped up to the plate. I guess, this has given the team the extra motivation and drive. If they can keep their spirits high, there is a chance of making history.”
Ewe Hock is even predicting a 3-1 win for Malaysia.
“I am confident that Chong Wei will deliver the first point and we have a chance of winning through the two scratch doubles pairs (Boon Heong-Thien How and Wee Kiong-V Shem). It will be a close affair for Wei Feng (against 19-year-old Kento Momota),” said Ewe Hock.
The Guangzhou final
Indonesia bt Malaysia 3-2: Marleve Mainaky lost to Wong Choong Hann 5-7, 5-7, 1-7; Candra Wijaya-Sigit Budiarto bt Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng 7-3, 7-4, 7-2; Taufik Hidayat lost to Lee Tsuen Seng 7-1, 5-7, 2-7, 7-2, 3-7; Halim Haryanto-Trikus Hariyanto bt Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah 8-7, 7-8, 7-1, 7-3; Hendrawan bt Roslin Hashim 8-7, 7-2, 7-1).