Choong Hann: Other singles players could be thrown into the fray at any time

PETALING JAYA: National coaching director Wong Choong Hann wants all the four men’s singles shuttlers in the Thomas Cup Finals squad apart from captain Lee Zii Jia to get themselves ready to be called into action.

Choong Hann has hinted that world No. 70 Cheam June Wei (pic) and No. 82 Ng Tze Yong, the second and third highest ranked in the team, may not necessarily be automatic starters even for crunch ties such as against Japan in Group D.

With teams being given a one-off exception to enter an expanded 12-member squad, as opposed to the traditional 10, for the Aarhus Finals this time, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) utilised it by bringing in a total of five singles shuttlers including world No. 121 Leong Jun Hao and No. 122 Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin.

“All team members should be prepared to be called upon. It’s not about whether they are ready or not, they must be ready at all time,” stressed Choong Hann.

“That’s the reason why they are here. They all fought hard to get into the team.”

On paper, the ideal three-man line-up for the singles will most likely go to Zii Jia, June Wei and Tze Yong.

However, June Wei has not been in the best form and this could prompt Choong Hann and men’s singles head coach Hendrawan to hand the second singles to Polish Open champion Tze Yong.

It’s worth mentioning that June Wei barely made the cut by coming in fourth in the six-man internal ranking tournament last month to claim the last berth.

June Wei only managed two wins to finish behind Tze Yong, Aidil and Jun Hao. The two victories recorded were against juniors Lim Chong King and Justin Hoh.

But June Wei would still give the coaches plenty of reasons to pick him given his track record in team tournament.

He played a starring role during the Asia Team Championships, which served as the qualifiers for the Finals, in Manila last year.

June Wei upstaged Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, South Korea’s Son Wan-ho and Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto in the second singles to help Malaysia finish runners-up to Indonesia.

However, Choong Hann said that would not guarantee him a starting spot.

“Nothing is certain for now as we will only decide on the line-up after evaluating the current conditions of each player,” said Choong Hann.

“A lot of factors will be taken into consideration. That’s why we brought a few of them here so that we do have options.”

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