PETALING JAYA: All the progress made by back-up singles shuttlers at the Thomas Cup Finals will count for nothing if they don’t build on it, says national coaching director Wong Choong Hann.
The 44-year-old supremo wants world No. 70 Cheam June Wei, Ng Tze Yong (82), Leong Jun Hao (120) and Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin (122) to keep the momentum going by winning the seventh-tier Czech Open this week (Oct 21-24) and sixth-tier Belgian International (Oct 27-30).
The quartet will be joined by Lim Chong King (152), who’s not part of the team in Aarhus.
“We have targeted them to win these two tournaments so that they will continue to trend in the right direction, be it in the pursuit of better performance or higher world ranking,” said Choong Hann.
“Players will have self-belief and will be motivated through good result, which are just as important for their career development apart from improvement in skills and physical ability.”
Choong Hann admits it was tough to improve their world ranking due to limited tournaments on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar.
“There are only the top-tier World Tour events or the International Challenge and International Series events.
“We have to compete in the lower-tier first because our players are not ranked high enough to qualify for top-level events,” he said.
The 21-year-old Tze Yong has impressed the most this year by bagging the sixth-tier Polish Open title in March.
As little as the feat was, it helped with his self-confidence as he stole the show during Malaysia’s 3-1 defeat to Indonesia in the last eight. He gave world No. 7 Jonatan Christie a run for his money before losing 21-14, 19-21, 16-21 after a 74-minute battle.
Jun Hao, who made it to the semi-finals in Poland before losing to Tze Yong, was the other outstanding performer in the Thomas Cup FInals.
The 2017 Asian junior champion upset world No. 16 Kenta Nishimoto to earn Malaysia a consolation point during Malaysia’s 4-1 loss to Japan in the group stage.
Choong Hann said the door was open for others to make the squad for next year’s edition in Bangkok.
“No one is guaranteed of a place. Those who prove their worth and showcase their fighting spirit will be given a chance. Everyone will be given a fair platform,” added Choong Hann.