Four-way fight for three places in team to world championships


BY LIM TEIK HUAT

PETALING JAYA: National singles coach Misbun Sidek has narrowed down the fight for the three men's singles slots in the World Badminton Championships to just four players. Of that number, two are shoo-ins, leaving the other two fighting it out for one last slot. 

Misbun said the four in the running were All-England champion Mohamed Hafiz Hashim, China Open winner Wong Choong Hann, Roslin Hashim and Lee Tsuen Seng. Hafiz and national number one Choong Hann are almost certain of their places. 

This leaves the last slot as a toss-up between All-England quarter-finalist Tsuen Seng and semi-finalist Roslin, both of whom had lost to China's Chen Hong. Hafiz beat Chen Hong in the final. 

Yesterday, Misbun ruled out former National Grand Prix champion James Chua from the list of names he is considering for the World Championships, which will be held in Birmingham from May 12-18. 

Barring any miracles, Misbun said it would be hard for James to make a full recovery before the deadline for submission of the names next Wednesday. 

James aggravated a knee injury just before the All-England competition earlier this month. “Unless James makes an extraordinary recovery, he will not be considered for the World Championships. 

“James is still not fit to come back for training. He is even skipping light workout,” said Misbun after an afternoon training session at Taman Megah Badminton Court here yesterday.  

Misbun said he would send only the best for the world meet.  

“The world meet is only held every two years and I want to make sure that those who are going can be relied on as strong challengers.” 

In the International Badminton Federation (IBF) qualifiers' list released on Feb 20, Malaysia have six players who are eligible for the world meet.  

But based on the IBF ruling, Malaysia can only send three men's singles players this time. 

A country can send a maximum of four singles players if four of their players are ranked in the world's top eight. If their players are ranked from ninth to 24th in the world, they can only send three players. 

The eligible Malaysians for the world meet are Choong Hann, ranked third in the world, Ong Ewe Hock (12th), Hafiz (16th), Roslin (17th), Tsuen Seng (19th) and James (20th). 

Ewe Hock has been dropped from the national team. And with James out of the equation, the tussle for the three slots will be among Choong Hann, Hafiz, Roslin and Tsuen Seng. 

“Choong Hann is still feeling a muscle fatigue on his right leg and I do not want to over-exert him, which is why I have asked him to skip the Selangor Open next week.  

“That is the reason I did not include Roslin as well. He is still nursing an old elbow injury. 

Unlike James, both their injuries are minor. They are back in training with the national shuttlers now,” said Misbun. 

“There is still time for me to decide. If any of them slacken in training, I will not hesitate to leave them out,” said the coach. 

Tsuen Seng, meanwhile, is determined to get the better of Roslin to book a place in the World Championships. 

“I will be going to compete in the Sudirman Cup before this.  

“But first, I hope to do well in the Selangor Open,” said Tsuen Seng, who made his debut in the 2001 world meet in Seville, losing in three games to Dane Peter-Gade Christensen.  

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