Hong Kong making plans to escape group of death unharmed

SHAH ALAM: Hong Kong coach Wong Choong Hann (pic) is plotting a route out of the Group of Death in the men’s team event in the Asia Team Championships which starts tomorrow at the Setia City Convention Centre in Shah Alam.

Hong Kong have been placed in Group A which is arguably the toughest group along with China and India in the team meet which also acts as the qualifiers for the Thomas and Uber Cup from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu, China.

Only the top two teams in the group will reach the quarter-finals.

Former Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) singles coaching director Choong Hann acknowledged that his players faced a tough task to make it to the last eight.

“It’s a tough group for us but we will give it our best shot,” said Choong Hann after overseeing his team’s training session yesterday.

“India have brought their best team while China will still be strong despite electing to field their second stringers.

“Surviving the group stages itself will be a good achievement for Hong Kong.”

Choong Hann is banking on experienced singles duo, world No. 14 Lee Cheuk Yiu and world No. 22 Angus Ng Ka Long to deliver the points.

Cheuk Yiu caught the eye by finishing runners-up in the World Tour Super 750 Indian Open in New Delhi last month.

The 27-year-old stunned Thailand’s reigning world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn, Indonesia’s world No. 5 Anthony Ginting and Japan’s world No. 6 Kodai Naraoka before going down fighting to China’s world No. 2 Shi Yuqi in the final.

The other singles players in the team are Chan Yin Chak (No. 89) and Jason Gunawan (No. 93).

Hong Kong are not as strong in the doubles with 107th ranked Law Cheuk Him-Yeung Shing Choi the highest ranked pair in the team.

Besides trying to earn a spot in the Thomas Cup, Choong Hann also wants the likes of Cheuk Yiu and Angus to take the opportunity in the Asia team meet to grab ranking points towards qualification for the Paris Olympics.

Both players need to make sure that they are in the world’s top 16 at the end of the qualifying period in April to book their places in the Olympics.

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