Captain Wooi Yik urges team to punch above their weight as underdogs


Ready for national duty: Soh Wooi Yik (left) and Aaron Chia at the flag handover ceremony at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles shuttler Soh Wooi Yik has called on his teammates to turn Malaysia’s underdog status into an advantage in the Thomas Cup Finals from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu, China.

Wooi Yik, who has been appointed team captain, believes that the team can spring a surprise in the prestigious team meet despite not being one of the favourites.

In 2014, the team led by Datuk Lee Chong Wei were not the strongest overall but went on to reach the final before narrowly losing 2-3 to Japan in New Delhi.

Wooi Yik wants his teammates to show similar character and spirit in Chengdu.

“As underdogs, we have some advantage. If we play to our strengths and give 100%, we can beat any team,” said Wooi Yik after the flag handover ceremony at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

“The big challenge in the Thomas Cup is to control our emotions and rhythm on court. If we can manage these, we can do well.”

As one of the seniors in the team, along with partner Aaron Chia and the country’s No. 1 in the singles Lee Zii Jia, Wooi Yik knows the importance of handling high pressure moments and is going all out to share his experience with the younger players.

Men’s doubles pair Choong Hon Jian, 23, Mohd Haikal Nazri, 21 and singles player Justin Hoh, 20 will all be making their debuts in the tournament.

“As a senior, I have played in many big tournaments before and have been guiding some of the juniors in the team,” said Wooi Yik.

“It’s natural to feel a bit nervous as the pressure is high in the Thomas Cup. This competition means a lot for all of us.

“It’s important that we support each other and fight for each other.”

Wooi Yik will be competing for the fourth time in the team meet after making his debut with Aaron in 2018.

Malaysia will open their campaign against Hong Kong in Group D before going on to play Algeria and Denmark.

On the match against Hong Kong, Wooi Yik said: “It will be 50-50. We have the advantage in the doubles and we want to win both the points there.

“We also hope to win the first singles to reduce the pressure on our second and third singles players.”

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