KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia are set to drop doubles players Chan Chong Ming or Gan Teik Chai for the Thomas Cup Finals from May 7-16 in Jakarta.
Yesterday, national doubles chief coach Yap Kim Hock announced that he would select five doubles players for the Finals. For now, he has decided on picking national number one pair Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah, Chew Choon Eng and Koo Kien Keat.
But he will decide the fate of Chong Ming and Teik Chai by the end of this week. Malaysia will have to submit their entries for the Finals to the International Badminton Federation (IBF), by April 23.
“Misbun (Sidek, the national singles chief coach) and I had an agreement before the Thomas Cup Asian Zone qualifier, that we will select five singles and five doubles players for the Finals. I was given six players while Misbun had four during the qualifier in February,” said Kim Hock after a morning training session at the Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara yesterday.
“The composition of the line-up may change when we meet up to finalise the squad. But for now, I am looking at five doubles players.”
With the intention only to select the best players for the Finals, Kim Hock said he had to make a decision between the experienced Chong Ming and youngster Teik Chai.
“Tan Fook-Wan Wah are certain to be in the team. Choon Eng has partnered Wan Wah before and I am counting him in. Youngster Kien Keat is one of the most versatile players in the team and can partner any of the doubles players. He is also in,” said Kim Hock.
Choon Eng and Kien Keat are the regular partners of Chong Ming and Teik Chai respectively.
“Chong Ming is making a comeback after a shoulder injury. He has been playing in international tournaments since the Swiss Open in March this year. There are improvements but his smashes are not as sharp as before. He is finding difficulties in killing the shuttle,” said Kim Hock.
“Teik Chai is nursing a slight ankle injury after the Japan Open. Chong Ming is certainly a better player than Teik Chai but now, I must decide whether he will able to stand up to the challenges in the Finals. I do not want to name a player who has not regained his form or at his best.”
Kim Hock said that it will be tougher to beat China than Indonesia in the Finals, following the rise in standard of the Chinese doubles players.
Based on the draw, Malaysia are set to meet top seeds China or defending champions Indonesia in the quarter-finals of the prestigious world team event.
“Our winning percentage against China has reduced compared to Indonesia. China now have a more balanced side following their doubles players' vast improvement. But I am not totally discounting our doubles players' chances. We will be prepared to face them,” added Kim Hock.
China will be banking on Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng and Sang Yang-Zheng Bo. This year, Cai Yun-Haifeng won the Swiss Open while Sang Yang-Zhengbo were the Korean Open runners-up.
Indonesia will count on Luluk Hadiyanto-Alven Yulianto, who won the Thailand and Korean Opens this year and Flandi Limpele-Eng Hian, who reached the Korean and All-England semi-finals.
Malaysia's best achievement this year was Tan Fook-Wan Wah's runners-up spot in the All-England.
Two years ago, the doubles failed to win any points in Malaysia's 2-3 defeat to Indonesia in the final of the Thomas Cup in Guangzhou, China.