SKIPPER Lee Chong Wei led a pep talk among his teammates and they bonded in a big birthday get-together over the last two days.
All that is expected to fuel the fire in the team to get off to a morale-boosting start against Russia in the opening Group D match today.
The 35-year-old Chong Wei spent some time motivating the team members and quelling their fears during a private dinner on Saturday
Yesterday, they also celebrated the birthdays of five team members – Goh V Shem and team manager Datuk Ng Chin Chai (May 20), Tan Wee Kiong (May 21), Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (May 24) and coach Paulus Firman (May 25.)
“We had an open session with all the team members after dinner. Every member spoke up about their feelings,” said Chong Wei.
“Some felt they were ready but some had their doubts. They felt that they needed a little more work.
“As a captain and a senior, I advised the team to stand together. Our battle begins tomorrow (today).
“I advised some of the tense youngsters not to worry and fear the unknown.
“We’re the underdogs but anything can happen in a team event. It’s time to make something of all our hard work and preparation.
“I told them not to worry about the end result but just fight all out.
“What’s important is to be satisfied that we gave a good show.”
Chong Wei said the goal for now was to clear the group stage. The others in the group are defending champions Denmark and Algeria.
“We have to finish in the top two to reach the quarter-finals. We cannot take Russia lightly and we’ll field the best team. I’ll play as the first singles,” he said.
Assistant captain Wee Kiong, who celebrates his 29th birthday today, said all six doubles players were ready for the challenge.
“The standard of the doubles players are so close. It’ll be tough but we’ll do our part, that’s our promise,” said Wee Kiong.
Chin Chai, who turned 55 yesterday, was happy to see the team’s camaraderie and spirit ahead of the Finals.
“My birthday wish is to see this team coming together to win the Thomas Cup after 26 years,” said Chin Chai.
“I believe in the impossible. The recent general elections showed that anything can happen. Our team may not be as strong as others but I’ve confidence in every player.”
Chong Wei’s a smash hit with Algeria’s Hamek
China ace says four other teams capable of winning Cup
Single-minded Indonesians can go all the way