THE top six SS Purple League (SSPL) clubs have taken full advantage of the transfer window to strengthen their squads in preparation for the SSPL Stage 2 which will be held from today through Sunday at the Sports Arena Sentosa in Old Klang Road.
The six badminton teams – Puchong United Badminton Club (BC), Ampang Jaya BC, Kepong BC, Cheras BC, Petaling BC and Petaling Jaya BC – will be the main focus of Stage 2 as they will play an extra two games which should prove vital to determining their seedings for the finals draw.
Favourites Puchong United BC showed no signs of letting up as they have acquired the services of Taiwan's world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying, one half of the world No. 7 men’s doubles pair from Chinese Taipei Lee Yang and national mixed doubles shuttler Goh Liu Ying.
“The players that we have added are actually not new to us. They have played for us from last season.
“It is important that we keep the core of the team strong because that will help with our team chemistry,” said Puchong United BC’s team manager Irina Inozemtseva.
“The inclusion of these players will definitely improve our team’s chances,” said Irina.
“We see that other clubs have also reinforced their squads, so it will be very competitive.
“But I hope with the experience of our key players they can shine in Stage 2 and the finals and hopefully win us the title. We are ready to fight as a team,” added Irina.
Defending champions Petaling Jaya BC have drafted Thai international, Mek Narongrit and Abhishek Yelegar from India to strengthen their men’s singles department, while also adding men’s doubles specialist South Korean international Kim Gi Jung.
“The arrangement by the coaching staff is for me to be the main singles player followed by our new signing, Mek Narongrit.
“We admit that we will both be facing high-ranked and more experienced players in our category.
“But this is a team event and I hope my teammates can also contribute some points,” said the 24-year old.
Petaling BC also bolstered their squad by bringing in Thailand singles player, Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, South Korean international Lee Hyun Il and national shuttlers Cheam June Wei and Peck Yen Wei.
Cheras BC made wholesale of changes by bringing in experienced Indonesian shuttlers in the shape of Bellaetrix Manuputty, Shela Devi Aula, Riky Widianto, Pia Zebadiah Bernadet – sister of Olympic champion Markis Kido and Japan international Shiori Saito.
Ampang Jaya BC and Kepong BC, however, did not make many changes to their squads the former only adding Tai Jing Yi to their ranks, while the latter signed Qin Jin Jing.
All Stage 2 matches will be played at the Sports Arena Sentosa in Old Klang Road.
The top six teams will then move on to the knockout stage at the Arena of Stars, Resorts World Genting from Feb 8 to 11 with the top two receiving byes into the semi-finals.
Tickets for the finals are on sale and cost RM55 and RM65. They can be purchased online at www.rwgenting.com
Stage 2 Fixtures
Today: Kepong BC vs Petaling BC (4pm), Puchong United BC vs Petaling Jaya BC (8pm).
Tomorrow: Bangsar Hawks BC vs Serdang BC(7th/8th Playoff) (12pm), Cheras BC vs Petaling Jaya BC (4pm), Ampang Jaya BC vs Kepong BC (8pm).
Sunday: Ampang Jaya BC vs Petaling BC (4pm), Puchong United BC vs Cheras BC (8pm).