Legend Rashid sees singles at its low and questions team unity before Thomas Cup


Tough hurdle: Ng Tze Yong is recovering from a back surgery and it’s hard for him to be at top form.

PETALING JAYA: It’s frustrating to see a weak Malaysia’s singles department despite great investment in it.

And that’s why legend Datuk Rashid Sidek has his own reservations on the overall strength of the singles’ players in this year’s Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu, China, from April 27-May 5.

Malaysia will be represented by professionals Lee Zii Jia, Cheam June Wei and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)’s Ng Tze Yong, Leong Jun Hao and Justin Hoh. The doubles players are Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani and Mohd Haikal Nazri.

Malaysia last won the Cup 32 years ago.

Rashid feels Malaysia probably have one of the weakest singles line-ups in recent times, compared to several big guns.

“Denmark, China, Indonesia, India, South Korea and even Hong Kong can rely on two capable singles players but for us, it’s hard to predict even one point from the singles,” said Rashid, who was a member of the 1992 Thomas Cup winning team.

National No. 2 Tze Yong is recovering from a back surgery and it’s hard to be at top form just months after going under the knife. In fact, he had not produced any exceptional results for some time, no thanks to the injury.

Zii Jia is ranked top but his inconsistent form also does not augur well.

“If Tze Yong is rested, Jun Hao is likely to step in as the second. The third could be June Wei. These players are experienced but all other top teams have strong second singles players,” he said.

“If Zii Jia loses, it will put the team under tremendous pressure.”

In times when a team are not balanced, unity, great team work and camaraderie among the players could turn the tide but Rashid feels that too is missing in this year’s preparation.

BAM have given the green light to Zii Jia to train on his own at a different venue.

He pointed out that Zii Jia’s absence at the centralised training camp could backfire.

“It has been our tradition, no matter what differences we have, to come together to train for the Thomas Cup Finals,” said Rashid.

“This time, an exception has been made.

“Nothing is wrong with it but it will have some effect on the morale of the team.

“You don’t really know what goes through the back of the players’ minds.

“I hope they don’t think one gets special treatment than the rest.

“I do really hope the team will get to train together as the Finals draw closer.

“We can still hope for a good show if we are single-minded in our mission.”

With most of the teams having a balanced team, Rashid admitted that the race for the Cup is still wide open.

“It’s anybody’s Cup really, and that will make this year’s affair an exciting one,” he added.

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