THERE’s no repeat of Manila 2005. Not even close.
Malaysia’s wait for the men’s team gold at the SEA Games continued after the shuttlers lost 1-3 to Indonesia in the final at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Manila yesterday.
Top men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia was a disappointment again.
In Kuala Lumpur two years ago, he failed to save the deciding second singles that saw Malaysia going down 0-3 to Indonesia and yesterday, the 21-year-old was uninspiring in his role as the first singles this time.
Malaysia desperately needed Zii Jia to hand the team a head start by scoring an upset win against world No. 6 Jonatan Christie, but the error-prone player ended up losing tamely 9-21,17-21 for his fifth straight defeat against the Asian Games champion.
“He was just too good. Right from the start he took control of the game on the front court. I tried to keep pace with him but it was still not enough, ” said a dejected Zii Jia.
“Jonatan’s experience made the difference. It’s not easy to cope playing under pressure but Jonatan handled the situation better than me.”
“I’m disappointed for not delivering the first point. I’m sorry to everyone.”
It looked like a mission impossible following Zii Jia’s defeat.
Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik reignited the battle by thumping Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto 21-17,21-13 but Anthony Ginting justified his last-minute inclusion in the team by putting Indonesia back in the lead by taking the second singles.
The world No. 8 Anthony fended off a spirited challenge from Joo Ven with a hard-fought 13-21,21-15,21-18 win in 69 minutes.
At 1-2 down, all eyes were on Yew Sin-Ee Yin to keep Malaysia’s hopes alive but they were a let down too.
It should have favoured the Malaysians but the two-time Thomas Cuppers could not stop Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pangkaryanira-Ade Yusuf Santoso from clinching the decider by bowing out 16-21,19-21.
With the win, Indonesia lifted their sixth straight gold and 17th overall in the men’s team event.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann admitted that the team failed to realise their potential.
“The team met the final target but I had expected them to go further. They did not seize the opportunity that were ahead of them.
“Nothing is impossible in sport if the athletes keep believing in themselves and do not give up. We saw the potential in Joo Ven today, who did a very good job to lift the team spirit.
“But it is what it is and we have to accept the result and move on. I hope the players will not feel down but make amends in the individual events.”
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