SINGLES meltdown saw Malaysia crashing out in the men’s team event.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Rexy Mainaky was left disappointed after a 1-3 defeat to spirited South Koreans at the Binjiang Gymnasium yesterday, thus missing out on an opportunity to reach the quarter-finals.
Hopes were high on Lee Zii Jia and Ng Tze Yong to deliver in the men’s singles against the lower ranked Jeon Hyeok-jin (No. 47) and Lee Yun-gyu (No. 119) respectively but both failed to rise to the occasion.
World No. 16 Zii Jia’s poor form continued when he went down 14-21, 21-14, 18-21 to Hyeok-Jin.
It was the independent players first defeat to the latter in three meetings.
The loss put Malaysia on the back foot but men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh-Wooi Yik breathed new life into the contest by pulling off a fantastic 21-17, 21-9 win over reigning world champions Kang Min-hyuk-Seo Seung-jae.
It was world No. 5 Aaron-Wooi Yik’s second consecutive win over the Koreans after also stunning them in the semi-finals of the China Open earlier in the month.
The victory though could not spur world No. 19 Tze Yong, who was far from his best and lost out 11-21, 16-21 to Yun-gyu to hand Korea a 2-1 lead.
Independent men’s doubles pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi were then tasked to save the tie but went down 16-21, 18-21 to scratch pairing Kim Won-ho-Na Sung-seung.
The third singles match between Leong Jun Hao and Cho Geon-yeop was not played.
It was Malaysia’s second consecutive round of 16 exit in the men’s team in the Asiad after also suffering the same fate in the last edition in Jakarta in 2018 after losing 0-3 to Japan.
“It’s a real pity because we had a chance to beat Korea but could not take it,” said Rexy.
“We were aiming for at least a point from the singles but we could not take it to the last singles.
“Perhaps our singles players were feeling the pressure to win as they were all higher ranked than the Koreans but it’s not an excuse.
“I also feel the Koreans played like nothing to lose and played better than us.”
On the positive side, Rexy was pleased with Aaron-Wooi Yik’s win.
“Yes, I feel Aaron-Wooi Yik’s win is something positive that can be taken from the tie. I want them to now stay focused for the individual event (from Oct 2-7).”
South Korea will take on Indonesia in the last eight today.