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Norza tells shuttlers to bank on team spirit for Cup challenge


Over to you: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria (centre) handing over the Jalur Gemilang to Vivian Hoo (fifth rom right) and Lee Chong Wei (fourth from right) at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday. — FAIHAN GHANI / The Star.

Over to you: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria (centre) handing over the Jalur Gemilang to Vivian Hoo (fifth rom right) and Lee Chong Wei (fourth from right) at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday. — FAIHAN GHANI / The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: Nothing is impossible – even winning the Thomas Cup Finals.

This was the mantra drummed into the players’ head by Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria on the final day of centralised training camp at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

The Thomas-Uber Cup Finals start on Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand and the team will be leaving tomorrow.

The BAM have set semi-final and quarter-final targets for the Thomas and Uber Cup teams respectively but Norza wants them to defy the odds.

“Football will have their World Cup next month. The Thomas Cup Finals is our World Cup,” said Norza.

“We last won the Thomas Cup in 1992. It’s a thing of the past.

“People do not have the confidence in us. Teams are ranked higher than us ... we are the underdogs but it’s all about team spirit.

“It is about how determined the players are to prove others wrong. Remember 2014! We were expected to pack our bags and return early but we went until the final (lost to Japan in New Delhi).”

Norza added that the junior players should not feel that they were mere passengers in the team.

“Lee Chong Wei is the most senior, our team captain and Leong Jun Hao is the youngest. But in a team, no one is more important than the other.

“The recent elections (GE14) showed that nothing was impossible (on the change of government). And nothing is impossible for us too.

“We must strengthen the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood all the time, family fights together ... even if we lose, we lose with dignity. Just give your best.”

Norza said winning the Thomas Cup would turn the players into instant legends.

“The players’ lives will change. I want every player to visualise before they sleep every day – of what they want to achieve in this Finals.”

He also fanned the fire among the coaches, officials and National Sports Institute (NSI) support team too.

“Coaches have chosen every player based on merit. Players were picked based on the hunger shown in training and tournaments.

“Coaches must give them the best support inside and outside the court. I’ve asked the team officials to leave no stone unturned.”

The BA of Malaysia made a payout of more than RM800,000 yesterday as bonuses for players’ performances in 2017.

   

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