Malaysia make wise decision to send best shuttlers for Asian meet

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s decision to send a full-strength squad for the Asian Mixed Team Championship has proven to be the right decision as almost all the top nations will be arriving with their best squads for the event in Dubai from Feb 14-19.

It was initially thought that the continental event will not be a top priority as most nations would be focusing on their preparations for the All-England and other World Tour tournaments in Europe.

Indonesia, for instance, have shown their intent on winning the title as they have named a power-packed squad led by world No. 1 men’s doubles pair Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto.

Indonesia, who were semi-finalists in the previous edition in Hong Kong in 2019, will fancy their chances with men’s singles Anthony Ginting, Chico Aura; men’s doubles Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan; women’s singles Gregoria Mariska; women’s doubles Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Fadia Ramadhanti; and mixed pairs Rinov Rivaldi-Pita Haningtyas and Rehan Naufal-Lisa Ayu.

National doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky said it would have been risky for Malaysia in their bid to reach the semi-finals if they had decided to send the second stringers.

“We initially thought that most teams will opt for second stringers due to the All-England and other European tournaments but we decided to go with full team. In fact, the others have also done the same,” said Rexy.

“If we had opted for second stringers, it would have been difficult to reach the semi-finals. Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and India are coming with strong teams.

“If we do not make the semis, it will be difficult for us to qualify for the Sudirman Cup as the combined ranking points among the teams are very close. China are the hosts and they can afford to rest their top players as they have qualified but we cannot take the risk. The ranking points will be valuable for us.”

Four Asian teams will qualify for the Sudirman Cup in May based on the team ranking points and doing well at the Asian Mixed Team will help Malaysia’s cause to remain in the top four.

Malaysia’s team consists of world No. 2 Lee Zii Jia, Leong Jun Hao (men’s singles); Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Ong Yee Sin-Teo Ee Yi (men’s doubles); Goh Jin Wei, Wong Ching Ling (women’s singles); Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, Teoh Mei Xing-Go Pei Kee (women’s doubles); and Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing (mixed doubles).

Besides Indonesia, Japan are the other contenders for the title with their latest men’s singles sensation Kodai Naraoka, men’s doubles Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi and Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino strengthening their squad.

Japan, champions in 2017, look to be the only team capable of thwarting Indonesia’s bid to secure their maiden title in Dubai.

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