PETALING JAYA: Many players may dread having to take on a world champion.
But national singles shuttler Jacky Kok Jing Hong is not one of them.
Instead, Jacky is relishing a possible clash with Singapore’s reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew in the SEA Games men’s team event.
In the draw released yesterday, Malaysia will most probably face Singapore in the semi-finals which will be played on May 18.
But first, they need to beat hosts Vietnam today while Singapore should have little trouble overcoming Laos.
Malaysia should beat Vietnam too but must be wary of the hosts who will be led by the experienced Nguyen Tien Minh.
Looking ahead at the match against Singapore, Jacky, who could be playing in the first singles and thus could be up against world No. 10 Kean Yew, is feeling excited over the possible match-up.
“If I get the chance to play as first singles against Kean Yew, it will be a great opportunity. I will go all out for it,” said Jacky.
Kean Yew is still trying to rediscover the form that won him the world title last year in Huelva, Spain.
His performances dipped after that but he showed glimpses of his stunning form in Spain at the just concluded Thomas Cup where he enjoyed a flawless outing.
Singapore were making their debut in the prestigious team meet and were drawn in a tough group alongside defending champions Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea.
Kean Yew, however, beat all his opponents in the first singles including Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting (No. 5) and the dangerous Korean Heo Kwang-hee. But his efforts were not enough for Singapore who exited in the group stage.
Kean Yew will now be looking to inspire his country in the SEA Games as the first singles.
Meanwhile, the other players in the Malaysian team who will be out to stop Singapore are Lim Chong King, Justin Hoh and Lee Shun Yang (singles) and Man Wei Chong, Tee Kai Wun, Mohd Haikal Nazri, Wan Arif Wan Junaidi, Hoo Pang Ron and Chen Tang Jie (doubles).
Meanwhile, the Malaysian women’s team will also open their campaign against Vietnam.
They comprise Siti Nurshuhaini Azman, Loh Zhi Wei, Ong Xin Yee, Siti Zulaikha Azmi (singles), Yap Ling, Go Pei Kee, Cheng Su Hui, Cheng Su Yin, Cheah Yee See, Peck Yen Wei (doubles).
A win will pit them against Indonesia in the semi-finals. The Indonesians received a bye in the opening match.