Rashid: Bright future ahead for players after worthy displays

PETALING JAYA: Former international Datuk Rashid Sidek has given the youthful Thomas Cup Finals squad the thumbs up despite their quarter-final exit in Aarhus.

All is not lost, according to Rashid, a member of the 1992 Cup-winning squad, as he feels that everyone saw the potential in Leong Jun Hao (pic) and Ng Tze Yong following their worthy performances.

Jun Hao scored Malaysia’s solitary point in their 4-1 group stage loss to Japan when he defeated world No. 16 Kenta Nishimoto 21-19, 21-18, while Tze Yong won the hearts of many with his spirited effort in the 21-14, 19-21, 16-21 loss to world No. 7 Jonatan Christie.

Rashid said if the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) were to build on the progress made in Aarhus, they were certainly heading in the right direction to achieve one of their Project 2024 targets - to reach the final of the Thomas Cup Finals next year in Bangkok, Thailand.

“It has been almost 30 years since we last won the Thomas Cup, but I can see that we have a bright future with this batch of players,” said Rashid.

“Through this Aarhus edition, we can see that some of the players have improved, particularly in the singles where Jun Hao and Tze Yong were among those who have impressed. They can only get better in the years to come.

“This will be the same group going for the next Thomas Cup. They form the core of the squad to realise BAM’s (Project 2024) mission.

“To challenge for the Thomas Cup, we need a squad with equal standard and depth. The singles have made good progress. Now, the doubles need to work harder to find a second strong pair.

“The team will only have a shot at winning the Cup when you know that the points can come from any of the five matches.”

Rashid believes Jun Hao and Tze Yong have what it takes to break into the world’s top 10 if they move forward in the right direction.

“Both have the potential and tremendous fighting spirit,” said Rashid.

“If they really work hard to fulfil their potential, I won’t be surprised if they become world top 10 players.”

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