KUALA LUMPUR: Emulate Koo Kien Keat’s spirit in 2004.
That’s the former national men’s doubles ace Lee Wan Wah’s (pic) message to Malaysia’s Thomas Cup debutants ahead of the biennial team tournament which gets under way in Bangkok on Sunday.
The 42-year-old, a seven-time Thomas Cupper and two-time runner-up, has called on the likes of Lee Zii Jia, Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik to play with no fear and make the most of the big stage to announce their arrivals instead.
“To all the youngsters in the team, I hope they don’t feel inferior to their opponents because there’s nothing for them to lose,” said Wan Wah, who formed a formidable partnership with Chong Tan Fook in the late 90s and 2000s.”
Wan Wah pointed out former world No.1 Kien Keat’s outstanding performance during the 2004 edition in Jakarta as the example.
Together with Chew Choon Eng, they nearly pulled off an upset over Indonesia’s Eng Hian-Flandi Limpele to level the tie in the quarter-finals. Malaysia lost 3-1.
“Kien Keat rose to the occasion on his debut and showed glimpses of his immense potential. He was just 19 then, fearless and ambitious. True enough he went on to conquer the Asian Games (2006) and All-England (2007) with Tan Boon Heong,” said Wan Wah.
“Being the first-timers, they shouldn’t be the ones to feel the pressure to deliver. Just go on court, give your very best and care not about the outcome.
“If you win, well done, and if you’re defeated, don’t be too hard on yourself and try to come back stronger.
“It’s very important to be pressure-free because that’s when you get the best performance out of yourself.
“So the current batch of players should take that as an inspiration. None of them have been in top 10, top five, so why not take this opportunity to show the world what you’re capable of.”
The other squad members making their debut are Leong Jun Hao, Teo Ee Yi and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif.
Wan Wah also spoke about the possible doubles line-up in Bangkok.
“I think (Goh) V Shem-(Tan) Wee Kiong partnership should never be split to form scratch pairing with other players, unless the team are really confident that the move would help to steal a point in the second doubles,” stressed Wan Wah.
“V Shem-Wee Kiong are our best bet to win their first doubles tie provided they are consistent. When they are on song, they can beat anyone.”