KUALA LUMPUR: It was the first day on the job for Misbun Sidek as the national singles chief coach at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara yesterday. And it didn’t take him long to decide to increase the number of hours of training and put the shuttlers through tougher sessions.
The scheduled two-and-a-half-hour session stretched to nearly four hours as the former Nusa Mahsuri chief coach went from one court to another to spar with every singles player in the national team.
He was as enthusiastic as a newcomer to the game. Occasionally, he stopped his punishing shuttle drills to give the players a tip or two.
Except for the injured James Chua, who turned up as a spectator yesterday, all the other players – Wong Choong Hann, Ong Ewe Hock, Lee Tsuen Seng, the Hashim brothers, Roslin and Hafiz, Sairul Amar Ayob, Ismail Saman, Yeoh Kay Bin, Ramesh Nathan, K. Yogendran, Lee Chong Wei and Kuan Beng Hong – were put through the paces.
He was assisted by Teh Seu Bok and his younger brother, Rashid.
At the end of the session, several players slumped on the benches and needed some time to catch their breath before packing their bags. And veteran Ewe Hock was heard shouting: “Head spinning!”
The 42-year-old Misbun said the players could expect longer and more gruelling sessions of training.
“I plan to increase a training session to four to five hours,” said Misbun.
“The time allocated now is not sufficient to work on both the senior and back-up players. I do not plan to separate the back-up and senior players.
“Today, I merely wanted to gauge the players’ form and ability. I will have a clearer picture on their condition in about two weeks’ time. Then, I will be able to come out with specific programmes for them.
“I conducted only light training today. The Nusa Mahsuri players (Roslin and Hafiz) have gone through tougher sessions than this under my charge. From what I saw today, one thing is for sure - our players need tougher training.”
Misbun, however, was glad that he had an exciting first day with the players.
“I woke up at 4am and was looking forward to meeting the players and coaching them. It was only my first day with them but I felt that they accepted me.
“They followed my instructions diligently. I hope this can be maintained,” said Misbun.
He started the day’s work with a short speech and urged the players to give their full commitment in training.
On the presence of Roslin and Hafiz at the training centre, Misbun said: “There is no conflict of interest by having them training together here. I have trained them before but they will get no favours from me.
“I am now the national coach and I will treat everyone equally.”
He added that his immediate plan was to get the players ready for the All-England, which will be played in Birmingham from Feb 12-16.
“The closing date (for entries) is Jan 15. The players have to be clear that I am not going to send players merely for the sake of having Malaysian representatives in the All-England. If I am unhappy with the players’ form in training, I may not even recommend a player,” said Misbun.
On his predecessor, Indonesian coach Indra Gunawan, Misbun said: “I understand that the players have grown to like him a lot but they have to accept the fact that coaches come and go.
“It is fair if they want to compare me with Indra because it gives me more reason to do even better? it is a great challenge for me.
“Indra has brought our players to one level and it is my duty to ensure that the players perform better than that under my charge.”
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) decided that they would longer needed the services of Indra in November and he left the country on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the first assignment for the national players under Misbun’s charge is the Thailand Open, which will be held in Bangkok from Jan 8-12.
Malaysia will be represented by three singles players – Hafiz, Ramesh and Yogendran.