PETALING JAYA: The Thomas-Uber Cup Finals are just a week away and the Badminton Assciation of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria is hoping that the premier badminton team events will bring all Malaysians together.
The players are currently involved in a five-day centralised training at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) for the Finals scheduled in Bangkok, Thailand, from May 20-27.
Norza said the Thomas-Uber Cup Finals had come at a right time – just after the GE14.
“Sport has the power to bring people together and we have seen this many times during the Thomas Cup Finals,” said Norza.
“The elections have passed and now, it’s for the badminton players to do their part. It’s their responsibility to bring out their best.
“We’ve set a realistic target – a semi-final appearance at least. The people of Malaysia will be pleased if our players fight until the end – they want to see unity and fighting spirit from the team.”
Norza said the team should not depend only on the 35-year-old Lee Chong Wei.
“He’s the leader of the team but every player has a role to play. They can’t be overly dependent on Chong Wei,” said Norza.
“If one falls, the others must stand up and fight. It’s a collective effort.”
Besides Chong Wei, the others in the Thomas Cup squad are Lee Zii Jia, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Leong Jun Hao, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Teo Ee Yi and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif.
The Uber Cup team members are Soniia Cheah, Goh Jin Wei, Lee Ying Ying, S. Kisona, Vivian Hoo, Goh Yea Ching, Chow Mei Kuan, Lee Meng Yean, Soong Fie Cho and Tee Jing Yi.
BAM have set a quarter-final target for the women’s team.
“On paper, it’s not easy for both the men and women’s teams. I’m not putting super pressure on them but I’m just hoping the players will rise to the occasion.
“Malaysia last won the Thomas Cup in 1992. That brought the nation together. It’ll be great if the team can replicate that kind of atmosphere,” he said.
Meanwhile, Norza, who is also the newly elected Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president, said he would meet up with the new Sports Minister as soon as he or she is appointed by the new government.