Norza urges youngsters to make an impact at Malaysian Masters

Counting on you: Lee Zii Jia will have to step up his game next year.

KUALA LUMPUR: The world’s best will descend on the city for the Malaysian Masters next month and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria wants the country’s youngsters to show up.

Most of the world’s top 10 players have confirmed their participation in the tournament from Jan 15-20 at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.

Norza said nine of the top 10 men’s singles players will compete while the women’s singles will see eight of the top 10 in action. The other top 10 players featuring are five in the men’s doubles, nine in the women’s doubles and four in the mixed doubles.

The prominent names are Japan’s world champion Kento Momota (men’s singles), Taiwan’s world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying (women’s singles), Indonesian stars Marcus Gideon Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (men’s doubles) and defending champion and former world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

Norza wants the Malaysian players to use the home advantage and hold their own against the cream of the crop in badminton.

“This tournament will give many of our back-up players a chance to show that they can challenge all these top-ranked players. I believe that the support of our fans will inspire these players,” said Norza, after officiating the season opener at the Academy Badminton Malaysia yesterday.

He wants players like Lee Zii Jia, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Yap Cheng Wen, who is partnering senior Vivian Hoo in the women’s doubles, to come good in 2019.

“We relied a lot on our ex-Olympians to deliver before this but when the new season begins, I hope the back-up players will put up good performances.”

Norza has also challenged his players to reach at least the last eight.

“The Malaysian Masters has attracted many top players, but we want our players to challenge them. I hope to see many of them in the quarter-finals and I want to see some of the youngsters come through the qualifying round.”

Also present at the ceremony were Perodua managing director Datuk Dr Zahari Husin and Daihatsu general manager of overseas sales and marketing promotion department Ichiro Otaki.

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