KUALA LUMPUR: Stay focused and don’t get disheartened.
That is Badminton Association of Malaysia coaching director Wong Choong Hann’s advice for his players as they face a mammoth task against China when the Sudirman Cup kicks off in Nanning, China, this Sunday.
Malaysia have been drawn with India and 10-time winners China in Group D at the world mixed team championships.
The home side boast at least two players or pairs who are in the world’s top 10.
On paper, Malaysia are looking at the possibility of a 5-0 defeat in their opening match.
“I think the outcome will also depend on how they play on that day. On paper, we’re looking at a 5-0 defeat and if we could play six matches, it would probably be 6-0. But that’s not how we’re going to gauge the whole tournament,” said Choong Hann before departing for Nanning yesterday.
“As we’re drawn in this group, we always knew that our focus is on India, so we should not feel demoralised if we have a bad start against China as long as we know where our target is.
“So I think we should have peace of mind regardless of how the result goes. As long as we have that opportunity to compete with China, we will gain experience and that’s more important.”
Even with the daunting task the team are facing, Choong Hann is staying positive that there will be an upset or two against the badminton powerhouse.
“We’re behind China in all areas but we’re still hoping for some surprises in one or two departments – maybe in the men’s doubles.”
Against India, with Malaysia having the advantage in all three doubles events on paper, the target is nothing less than a win to earn a place in the quarter-finals.
It will also be revenge for the 3-1 defeat they suffered in the mixed team final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year.
Getting a point in any of the singles events will be a big bonus for the national squad with India having the luxury of fielding world No. 9 K. Srikanth in the men’s singles, and world No. 5 P. V. Sindhu and No. 9 Saina Nehwal in the women’s singles.
“Overall, they have a pretty balanced team with their strength in the singles events but in the doubles we’re slightly better,” said Choong Hann.
“But they’ve proven that they can beat us in the team events before, so we can’t take them lightly.
“We will tune our players into their best condition over the next few days.”