A test of character

Someone to rely on: At the Sudirman Cup in May, Lee Zii Jia (left) won all his matches including against South Korea’s Jeon Hyeok-jin in the semi-finals to help Malaysia win a bronze.

CALM yourself before the storm.

That will be Rexy Mainaky’s approach as he calls for the shuttlers to stay cool despite seeing Malaysia being handed a tough draw in the men’s team event starting today at the Binjiang Stadium in the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Malaysia, who are unseeded, will meet South Korea in the round of 16 today and a win will see them go up against one of the favourites Indonesia in the quarter-finals.

The Indonesians, who had finished runners-up to China in the last edition in 2018 at home in Jakarta, have been handed a bye in the opening round.

Despite the huge test ahead, newly appointed national coaching director Rexy is refusing to look beyond the tie against the Koreans.

“We cannot afford to think about meeting Indonesia for now,” said Rexy. “We have to focus on the tie against Korea first. It won’t be easy against them but we do have a chance.

The Koreans boast reigning men’s doubles world champions Kang Min-hyuk-Seo Seung-jae in their ranks and world No. 15 Choi Sol-gyu-Kim Won-ho.

In the singles though, they are not as strong as their highest ranked player is world No. 47 Jeon Hyeok-jin.

Malaysia have a good chance to win points in the first and second singles through world No. 16 Lee Zii Jia and world No. 19 Ng Tze Yong.

Zii Jia’s form coming into the Asiad is not the best, having lost in the early rounds of his last three individual events, but the 25-year-old has proved himself reliable in team competitions.

At the Sudirman Cup in May, the independent player won all his matches including against Hyeok-jin in the semi-finals to help Malaysia win a bronze.

Zii Jia has also never lost to the Korean, coming out on top against him in the Asian Team Championships last year as well.

Korea’s other two singles players selected in the team are Lee Yun-gyu and Cho Geon-yeop, who are ranked 119th and 163rd in the world respectively.

Tze Yong has never met Yun-gyu before in international tournaments but will be the favourite to win based on his superior ranking.

In the first doubles, world No. 5 Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik will most likely be fielded against world No. 4 Min-hyuk-Seung-jae.

Based on the head-to-head records, both pairs are evenly matched after winning once against each other.

Min-hyuk-Seung-jae beat Aaron-Wooi Yik in the semi-finals of the World Championships in Copenhagen last month en route to capturing the title but the latter obtained swift revenge in the same stage at the China Open a week later.A second win for Aaron-Wooi Yik over the Koreans will do nicely as it will likely tilt the overall tie in Malaysia’s favour.

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Badminton , Rexy Mainaky , Asian Games , Hangzhou


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