Haikal fired up for Asia Team Championships despite still recovering from ankle injury

Hard at work: Haikal Nazri going through the drills at the Akademi Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara.

PETALING JAYA: Haikal Nazri, despite carrying a left ankle injury, is possibly the most excited player in Malaysia’s squad as this will be his first major appearance in a team event when he features in the Asia Team Championships at the Setia City Convention Centre from Feb 13-18.

He has never played in team events for Malaysia during his junior days. His only experience in a team competition came when he became a senior, partnering Wan Arif Wan Junaidi at the 2022 Hanoi SEA Games where Malaysia won a silver.

This leaves the Asia Team Championships as the biggest team competition for the 21-year-old Haikal, who can’t wait to see action with partner Choong Hon Jian next week.

Haikal is so fired up that he is showing fast recovery from a left ankle injury which he suffered during the first round of the Thailand Masters in Bangkok on Jan 30.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) selected No. 43 Hon Jian-Haikal ahead of the higher ranked Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun (No. 17) following their success of winning back-to-back titles at the Syed Modi International and Indian Masters in November last year. “I was playing in the Indonesia Masters two weeks ago when we saw the list and I couldn’t believe that my name was part of it. I just love to play in team events as I get fired up and I become a different player,” said Haikal.

“This is also my biggest break in team events as the Hanoi SEA Games was my only experience before this. I hope to play and help the team if given a chance during the Asia Teams.

“I like to play an explosive game on court and it was a little disturbing when I suffered the injury at the Thailand Masters (last week). But I was relieved when the doctor said the injury was not serious.

“My ankle is getting much better as I have been training and also undergoing rehabilitation at the same time.”

Haikal also believes Malaysia have a fighting chance to defend their crown and he is hopeful of combining well with Hon Jian and playing their part.

The other pairs in the team are world No. 5 Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and No. 22 Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani.

Playing at the Thomas Cup Finals is another dream for Haikal but he is not looking too far ahead and wants to focus on the Asia Teams first. “The Thomas Cup is something every player wants to be part of and I don’t know If I can get a chance but if I’m given one, I will give it my best shot,” added Haikal.

The Thomas Cup will be held in Chengdu, China, from April 28-May 5 and Haikal can realise his dream of playing in the major event with a notable performance with Hon Jian next week.

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