PETALING JAYA: National men’s doubles ace Soh Wooi Yik (pic) believes Japan will still be a force to be reckoned with at the forthcoming Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup Finals despite the retirement of three seasoned players from their national team.
World No. 6 Keigo Sonoda-Takeshi Kamura, both 31, and long-serving Hiroyuki Endo, 34, have tendered their resignation to Nippon Badminton Association last week after having failed to win the country’s first medal in the men’s doubles event at the recent Tokyo Olympics.
Endo formed the world No. 5 partnership with Yuta Watanabe, 24, and they successfully defendedtheir All-England title in March.
Japan will now have to rely on the likes of world No. 14 Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi, No. 30 Takuto Inoue-Yuki Kaneko and No. 31 Akira Koga-Taichi Saito to deliver in the men’s doubles ties, especially during the Thomas Cup.
Wooi Yik, however, stressed that he and partner Aaron Chia can’t afford to take the new pairings lightly.
“The Japanese players who retired were among the world’s top 10 pairs but that doesn’t make things easier for us,” said Wooi Yik after receiving RM50,000 cash incentive from Federal Territories Ministry yesterday.
“We will now have to face their younger pairs, we have to study their game well.”
Wooi Yik is also aiming to beef up their game as they anticipate a backlash from the Indonesian world’s top two pairs – Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Fernaldi and Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan – after beating them en route to winning the bronze medal at the recent Tokyo Olympics.
They beat Kevin-Marcus in the last eight to mark their first win in eight meetings while the downed Ahsan-Hendra for only their second victory in nine matches to capture the bronze in Tokyo.
“It’s surely going to be tougher than ever to beat the two Indonesian pairs. After having beaten them, I’m sure they will want to seek revenge and we have to work harder to get ready to face them (if meet them in the knockout stage of the two team tournaments).”
Meanwhile, Wooi Yik thanked the FT Ministry for the cash reward.
“I’m grateful for the incentive. I have been representing FT since I was young, they have supported me in the early stages of my career before joining the national team,” he said.
It took Wooi Yik’s cash rewards to RM140,000 in total including the RM90,000 he pocketed last week from his share of RM180,000 incentive handed by Badminton Association of Malaysia (RM120,000) and 100Plus (RM60,000).
Wooi Yik and Aaron are also due to rake in another RM100,000 from the National Sports Council’s (NSC) incentive scheme – Shakam.
As the Olympics bronze medallists, the duo will also receive a monthly lifetime pension of RM2,000 each.