Zii Jia’s return helps Malaysia set showdown with China

The saviours: Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (left) and Goh Sze Fei secured a commanding 21-15, 21-19 win over Japan’s Kenya Mitsuhashi-Hiroki Okamura. Left: Men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

SHAH ALAM: Men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia returned to lead the team to the final of the Asia Team Championships with a brilliant 3-1 win over Japan.

A day earlier, a sinus problem forced Zii Jia to miss out on the quarter-finals against Singapore.

The 25-year-old’s participation against Japan was in doubt and the team were even prepared to field doubles as singles player but Zii Jia was passed fit to play and came back in style with a 21-18, 21-15 win over Kenta Nishimoto.

World No. 10 Zii Jia played with aggression and intelligence throughout to upstage the Japanese world No. 12 in 51 minutes.

It was sweet revenge for Zii Jia, who lost to Nishimoto in the duo’s last encounter in the China Masters in November.

Zii Jia was pleased to get the win despite not being at 100% fitness.

“I’m not at 100% today (yesterday) but I wanted to help the team win,” said Zii Jia.

“As long as I am able to play, I will go all out on court.

“I need to see my condition day to day to see if I can play or not and I’m happy that I managed to play and get this win.

“I lost to Nishimoto in the China Masters and I’m glad that I managed to win this time,” added Zii Jia.

World No. 5 men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik doubled the team’s advantage with a hard fought 15-21, 21-17, 21-10 victory over world No. 15 Akira Koga-Taichi Saito.

Then, in the second singles, world No. 38 Leong Jun Hao came agonisingly close to sealing the tie in Malaysia’s favour but went down fighting to world No. 20 Koki Watanabe 21-19, 12-21, 19-21 in a pulsating 88-minute match.

It was left to second doubles pair Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani to keep the home hopes alive and the duo did not disappoint by securing a commanding 21-15, 21-19 win over Kenya Mitsuhashi-Hiroki Okamura much to the delight of the fans.

The team are now just one step away from defending the title won in the last edition in 2022 in the same venue.

Standing in Zii Jia and his teammates way in the final will be China, who edged South Korea 3-2 in the other last four tie.


Men’s team

Malaysia bt Japan 3-1 (Lee Zii Jia bt Kenta Nishimoto 21-18, 21-15; Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik bt Akira Koga-Taichi Saito 15-21, 21-17, 21-10; Leong Jun Hao lost to Koki Watanabe 21-19, 12-21, 19-21; Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani bt Kenya Mitsuhashi-Hiroki Okamura 21-15; 21-19).

China bt South Korea 3-2 (Weng Hongyang bt Cho Geonyeop 21-11, 16-21, 21-15; Chen Boyang-Liu Yi lost to Kang Min-hyuk-Seo Seung-jae 20-22, 5-21; Lu Guangzu bt Jeong Min-seon 21-15, 21-19; Ren Xiangyu-Xie Haonan lost to Ki Dong-ju-Kim Won-ho 21-17, 17-21, 13-21; Lei Lanxi bt Woo Seung-hoon 21-11, 21-10).

Women’s team

India bt Japan 3-2 (P.V. Sindhu lost to Aya Ohori 13-21, 20-22, Treesa Jolly-Gayathri Gopichand bt Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida 21-17, 16-21, 22-20; Ashmita Chaliha bt Nozomi Okuhara 21-17, 21-14; P. V. Sindhu-Ashwini Ponnappa lost to Rena Miyaura-Ayako Sakuramoto 14-21, 18-21; Anmol Kharb bt Natsuki Nidaira 21-14, 21-18).

Thailand bt Indonesia 3-1 (Supanida Katethong bt Putri Kusuma 21-17, 21-19; Jongkolphan Kititharakul- Rawinda Prajongjai bt Lanny Tria-Ribka Sugiarto 22-20, 21-14; Busanan Ongbamrungphan lost to Ester Nurumi 23-25, 16-21; Benyapa Aimsaard-Nuntakarn Aimsaard bt Amalia Cahaya-Rachel Allessya 24-22, 21-14).

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