PETALING JAYA: Doubles specialist Tan Boon Heong is ready to don national colours again if his services are needed to strengthen the Thomas Cup Finals squad.
The Finals will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from May 20-27 next year.
But first, the Malaysian team must qualify for the Finals during the Badminton Asia Championships in Alor Setar, Kedah, from Feb 6-11. Only four tickets are up for grabs from the qualifiers in Asia.
Boon Heong is available to play because his partnership with Indonesian Olympic gold medallist Hendra Setiawan has ended.
The experienced Hendra has reunited with his former world champion partner Mohd Ahsan to strengthen the Indonesian team next year.
“I’m open if BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia) wants me to play. I leave it up to them,” said Boon Heong.
“I had a good year with Hendra. We gave some of the top pairs a good fight at the Opens in Denmark, China and Hong Kong.”
Boon Heong and Hendra played 18 tournaments in total this year and they did well to enter the final of the Australian Open Superseries and semi-finals of the China Masters. They ended the season as the world No. 21 pair just within a year.
It will not be the first time if BAM recall independent shuttler Boon Heong to play for them.
The 30-year-old Boon Heong, who left the national team in March, 2015, was also invited to play for Malaysia at the Thomas Cup Finals in Kunshan, China, last year.
Then, he played with former partner Koo Kien Keat and Malaysia went on to reach the semi-finals.
“I’ve not made any plans for next year yet but I’ll consider if BAM gives me a chance to play,” added Boon Heong, who is one of the most admired, feared and respected players for his powerful smashes.
Malaysia will be banking on Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin as their top two pairs for the Finals.
Boon Heong’s presence will give Malaysia an edge but it’s up to men’s doubles head coach Cheah Soon Kit whether he wants to use an old-timer or give a youngster an opportunity to prove himself in the team event.
Soon Kit may consider using the services of youngsters Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani or Chooi Kah Ming-Low Juan Shen for the Finals.
Did you find this article insightful?