KUNSHAN (China): The Thomas Cup trophy was on display not far from the court but it was a case of so near and yet so far for Lee Chong Wei and company.
Malaysia will probably never get another chance like this to win the prestigious Cup like what transpired on Friday.
They had a two-nil lead but failed to ride the momentum against Denmark in the semi-finals.
The Danes, despite the absence of Jan Jorgensen and doubles players – Mads Pieler Kolding and Carsten Mogensen, showed what team competition is all about by fighting back to win the next three points and ensure a date with Indonesia in the final on Sunday.
The last time Malaysia lifted the Cup was way back in 1992 in Kuala Lumpur and one gets the feeling that the memories of that day will not arrive anytime soon.
Chong Wei has made an immense contribution by delivering an almost sure point from the first singles at the last two editions of the Finals but he is likely to be missing in the next edition in two years time.
The others like Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Goh Soon Huat and doubles pairs Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong will still be around.
Former national shuttlers Chong Wei Feng and doubles pairs Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong should be looking at their last campaign in Kunshan after failing to turn the tide against the Danes.
Denmark and Indonesia, who saw their experiment with younger players paid off, will square off for the title on Sunday.
“It was a battle of youth against experience. We knew it would be 50-50 against Malaysia or any team still out there.
“Our players are more hungry and they don’t give up easily.
“Now we hope to finish off the job,” said Danish coach Kenneth Jonassen.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) team manager Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria admitted it is going to be hard in two years time.
“The question is whether we want to field a team that is strong enough to challenge for the title in two year’s time or focus on rebuilding a better team for the future.
“As the coaching and training committee chairman, I will discuss with Morten Frost Hansen (technical director) after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics is over on the ways to rebuild and strengthen the set-up.
“There will be new players coming in and some players going.”