Zii Jia excited to face off with Japanese ace in Europe


High flying: Lee Zii Jia plays a shot to Japan’s Kento Momota during the men’s singles quarter-final match at the All-England in March. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia is thrilled with the prospect of facing Kento Momota again although the wounded Japanese is expected to strike back.

The duo are expected to cross swords in the Sudirman Cup in Vaanta, Finland from Sept 26-Oct 3 and Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark from Oct 9-17.

The 23-year-old expects the Japanese star to bounce back stronger after his shock defeat to South Korea’s Heo Kwang-hee in the group stage at the home Olympics Games.

Zii Jia also defeated Momota in the quarter-finals en route to emerging as the All-England champion in March.

Barring any upsets, Zii Jia should face Momota twice as Malaysia and Japan have been drawn in the same group in both the team events.

Together we stand: Lee Zii Jia leading the squad to read their oaths during the flag handing over ceremony for the Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup Finals. — BernamaTogether we stand: Lee Zii Jia leading the squad to read their oaths during the flag handing over ceremony for the Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup Finals. — Bernama

Zii Jia wants to show that his first-ever win in seven meetings against Momota at the All-England was no fluke.

“After the Olympics meltdown, he will surely want to play to his true form and that’s what excites me,” said the Sudirman Cup team captain after receiving the Jalur Gemilang from Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu yesterday.

“Momota was far from his best when we played as it was his first tournament in 15 months.

“I want to beat him when he is in top shape.”

When the two-time world champion Momota was at his peak, the Malaysian could not take even one game off as seen in all his previous six straight-game defeats.

While his predecessor Lee Chong Wei has an impressive record as the first singles, having contributed 24 points out of a possible 27 until the last Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok, Zii Jia wants to do well and get a good head start for the team too.

“The pressure is always there, but I know I can handle it,” said Zii Jia.

“I’ll have my teammates’ backing, we will win and lose as a team,” added the Malaysian, who has gained the experience of playing as the first singles at the previous Sudirman Cup, SEA Games and Asia Team Championships.

Meanwhile, after the flag handing ceremony, Faizal and his deputy Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker were taken on a tour of the state-of-the-art raining centre by the BAM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria.

And one visit was all it took to impress Faizal as he now wants all other national sports associations to emulate BAM in having their own full-fledged academy to churn out world beaters.

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