Thomas Cuppers Arif-Nur Azriyn axed, more to be dropped

KUALA LUMPUR: Thomas Cupper Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and his partner Nur Azriyn Ayob have been axed from the national men’s doubles team to give way for younger players.

And more are on their way out, said Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) doubles head coach Cheah Soon Kit yesterday.

A disappointed Arif felt the decision was unfair.

His frustration is understandable as independent shuttlers Arif and Azriyn had been invited to join the BAM just two months ago and they severed ties with their sponsors to start anew with the national body.

It all looked great when Arif was even selected to represent Malaysia at the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok, Thailand, last month although the rationale for his inclusion was questioned as there were several better players who were fitter and more experienced.

“Now, they’ve just dropped us. Initially, they told us we’ll be in the team until July,” said the 28-year-old Arif.

“They want to focus on players under 21. We’ve been asked to tender our resignations.

“I’ll submit the letter but I’m just disappointed with the manner they’ve done it. Why did they ask us to join them in the first place?

“We had to give up our sponsors. I had a chance to be in the Thomas Cup squad but Azriyn did not even get to play in any tournament under the BAM.

“We’re not treated fairly. I asked my coach (Paulus Firman) but he said he was as shocked as we were. I’ve accepted this decision and I’ll move on.”

Arif said he would not give up badminton and instead will play at the Singapore Open from July 17-22 with Azriyn.

“The BAM have entered our names for the Singapore Open. They’ve given us their blessing to play on as independent shuttlers,” said Arif.

“We’ll continue to do our best and bring honours to the country. We’re proud to be playing for Malaysia.”

Soon Kit, who had earlier justified Arif’s selection for the Thomas Cup squad, said he had to follow procedures by shrinking his 28-member team as instructed by the coaching and training committee.

“It was a collective decision and I’ve no choice but to follow procedures and drop players. Besides Arif and Azriyn, I’ll have to release several more. I’ll keep only the best,” said Soon Kit.

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