KUALA LUMPUR: Japan’s hotshot Kento Momota is the world champion. He is also the world No. 1. And the in-form shuttler will make his way to Malaysia as the star attraction in this year’s Purple League.
Ampang Jaya BC have gone the extra mile and burned a hole in their pocket to sign up Momota for the club in a bid to spice up the tournament.
The Japanese badminton superstar will feature in at least three matches for Ampang Jaya BC during the fifth edition of the league which kicks off in December.
Momota has been on form in recent months, picking up the men’s singles titles at the Indonesia Open in July and the Japan Open in September besides the World Championship title in China in August.
The 24-year-old’s performances since returning in July last year after a 15-month ban over a gambling issue is nothing short of remarkable.
And team manager Ho Khek Mong said Momota would be a massive boost for the team as he plays alongside national players Chan Peng Soon, Goh Jin Wei, Shevon Lai and Tan Jia Wei for the team.
They have set a top-three podium finish in the league.
“He is very helpful and supportive of the club. During his ban, I constantly asked him to come to Malaysia and play,” said Khek Mong during the team’s launch at The Challenger Sports Centre in Ampang yesterday.
“This time, he took up the opportunity. It is not about the money. He will give up his time from his holiday to play in the league for the Malaysian fans.”
Momota is currently embroiled in another controversy back home but Khek Mong believed they had secured a committed and dedicated player.
Khek Mong denied negative reports on Momota that claimed a video surveillance camera had shown a female national teammate leaving his room during a training camp in Tokyo.
“I’ve verified this with his manager and the news is untrue. A press conference will be announced by their manager (to debunk it),” he said.
“He is a world champion, so minor things are escalated into big issues in Japan.”
Olympic silver medallist Peng Soon, who will captain the team that finished sixth last season, said Momota’s presence would be good for the team.
“We are delighted with the news of Momota joining us. The team looks very strong and it’s possible for us to meet a top-three finish.”
Peng Soon added that the tournament provides opportunities for non-national team players to strut their stuff.
“It gives them a chance to show what they are capable of, and we can see their standard. This can be a platform for them to make it into the national team.”