PETALING JAYA: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have an option to call up independent mixed doubles pairs to strengthen the national squad for the Sudirman Cup challenge next month.
But will they?
The mixed doubles is the area that the BAM need to explore outside the national set-up if they want to assemble the best possible squad for the world mixed team championship in Vantaa, Finland, from Sept 26-Oct 3.
The three highest-ranked combinations in the country are all professionals – world No. 7 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing (12) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (13) while those under the BAM are Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See (27), Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei (49) and Choong Hon Jian-Toh Ee Wei (142).
Only Tang Jie was picked for the previous edition in Nanning, China, two years ago but he did not play a part in the campaign.
The BAM have until Sept 12 to name the 20-player squad and it will be interesting to see if the selectors would place their faith on their untested players.
Former doubles international Koo Kien Keat believes the youngsters in the national team should be given a chance as the Sudirman Cup has never been Malaysia’s forte.
“I think there’s no harm in letting the juniors gain some invaluable experience from a major event like the Sudirman Cup,” said Kien Keat, who helped Malaysia secure bronze in the 2009 Guangzhou edition for the nation’s most successful outing.
“After all, I don’t think Malaysia are targeting to finish on the podium anyway.
“This is a good platform for these youngsters to prove their worth by going up against the big names.
“But of course, it all depends on what BAM are looking to achieve.”
Kien Keat knows very well how massive an impact one big tournament experience can impart to a player as he himself had played in the Sudirman Cup for his first major start.
Only 18 then, Kien Keat, who was a rising men’s doubles star, teamed up with Wong Pei Tty in the 2003 edition in Eindhoven, Holland.
The team could only finish eighth, but it did Kien Keat’s confidence a whole world of good.
In the 2004 Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta, Kien Keat put up a heroic performance with Chew Choon Eng against Flandi Limpele-Eng Hian in the second doubles tie although Malaysia eventually lost 1-3 to Indonesia in the quarter-finals.
The rest was history as Kien Keat went on to form a successful partnership with Tan Boon Heong where the pair won the 2006 Doha Asian Games gold and the 2007 All-England en route to becoming world No. 1.