PETALING JAYA: The inconsistent performance by top shuttlers Lee Zii jia and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik at the Thomas Cup Finals is not a cause for concern.
National coaching director Wong Choong Hann has served a reminder that the trios are not ‘finished products’ and so, they are bound to experience ups and downs in the process of becoming the best.
All-England champion Zii Jia and Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists Aaron-Wooi Yik failed to replicate the same form they had in leading the team to the bronze medal finish at the recent Sudirman Cup in Finland.
Malaysia were depending heavily on Zii Jia and Aaron-Wooi Yik to deliver the crucial points in the opening singles and doubles but they faltered during the group stage against Japan (losing 1-3) and subsequently being sent packing by Indonesia (0-3) in the last eight.
Zii Jia failed to win in his rematch with Kento Momota and Anthony Ginting while Aaron-Wooi Yik too lost to Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Fernaldi and Yugo Kobayashi-Takuro Hoki, whom they had beaten in Vantaa, Finland.
“We certainly had high expectations on them as they are the new leaders of this youthful side,” said Choong Hann.
“But this does not mean they are ‘perfect products’ already.
“Obviously, we were hoping for them to put up a fine performance to win us the points, but despite trying their best, it was still not enough.
“There were shortcomings in their performances but it doesn’t mean that they have become incompetent players all of the sudden.”
Choong Hann has assured that the coaches, with the help from the support service team from National Sports Institute (NSI), will continue to work hand in hand to help the trio’s game to flourish further.
“We’re gathering all the data so that we can focus specifically on the areas that we need to improve,” said Choong Hann.
“I strongly believe that we have the resources and capabilities to help the players overcome their shortfalls so that they can be more ready in the future tournaments.”Encouraged by inspiring performances of several young players such as debutant Ng Tze Yong and Leong Jun Hao, Choong Hann believes the team are ready to raise the benchmark for the next year’s edition in Bangkok.
“We will definitely set a more challenging target for the next Thomas Cup as we do have enough time to beef up both our singles and doubles departments,” he explained.
“We need to double up our improvement rate because that would be the determining factor. Yes we’re improving, but so are our opponents. So we have to buck up faster, that’s the only way for us to be more ready and mount a stronger challenge at the next edition.”
Malaysia last won the Thomas Cup at the 1992 edition in Kuala Lumpur, when most of the current group of players were not even born.