Zii Jia and Co wary of dangerous Taiwan singles shuttlers

Easy win: Eogene Ewe returning a shot to Kazakhstan’s Makhsut Tajibullayev during the Group B match. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

SHAH ALAM: Men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia is wary of the threat posed by Taiwan’s singles players in the Asia Team Championships.

Malaysia, who are down to play Taiwan in a mouthwatering Group B clash at the Setia City Convention Centre today, will expect a close fight.

While Taiwan will most likely field dangerous duo Lin Chun-yi (No. 21) and Lee Chia-hao (No. 33) as their first and second singles, our line-up will most probably be Zii Jia, world No. 15 Ng Tze Yong and world No. 38 Leong Jun Hao.

“Roughly, we know which players Taiwan will field against us,” said Zii Jia.

“Chun-yi has made good progress over the last one or two years and he beat me the last time we played each other.

“It will definitely be a tough match for me but I’m looking forward to it.

“Overall, I think our teams are quite evenly matched on paper,” added Zii Jia.

Taiwan are no longer solely reliant on Thailand Masters winner and world No. 13 Chou Tien-chen, who has not been selected for the team meet.

Chun-yi notably stunned Thailand’s reigning world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn and China’s Asian Games gold medallist Li Shifeng en route to reaching the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open last month.

The 24-year-old also toppled the likes of China’s world No. 2 Shi Yuqi, Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting (No. 5) and Japan’s Kodai Naraoka (No. 6) last year.

Zii Jia fell to the tenacious Taiwanese as well in the Malaysian Masters last year.

Chia-hao also proved his capability by pulling off a huge upset win over Denmark’s world No. 1 and reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in last year’s Hong Kong Open.

Taiwan will have the experienced Wang Tzu-wei (No. 26) to call on as well in the team meet.

For the doubles, 2022 world champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are Malaysia’s best bet to win a point but need to be on their toes against reigning Olympic champions Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin.

In the second doubles, world No. 22 Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani will likely be fielded and could face either Taiwan’s world No. 16 Lee Jhe-huei-Yang Po-hsuan or Lu Ching-yao-Yang Po-han (No. 26).

Malaysia and Taiwan are already safely through to the last eight after securing a 5-0 wins over Kazakhstan and Brunei respectively yesterday.

Both teams will be fighting for top spot and a more favourable draw in the quarter-finals in the match today.

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