KUALA TERENGGANU: A change of guard is set to take place in the men’s singles department of the national team following insipid performances by several senior shuttlers in the Proton National Grand Prix Finals, which ended here on Sunday.
The end is nigh for James Chua, K. Yogendran and Yeoh Kay Bin and players from the Project 2010-12 squad are set to make their breakthrough into the national team.
James’ tame 24-minute defeat by Lee Chong Wei in the semi-finals showed that he is no longer up to the mark while Yogendran hardly showed any substance in his defeat by Mohd Hafiz Hashim.
A hardworking Kay Bin, who has been in the national team for almost a decade, was down with fever and lost to James in the semi-finals. But he also does not have any good results to stake a claim for a longer stay in the national team.
In fact, even Kuan Beng Hong’s position in the national team hangs in the balance. He was beaten by back-up shuttler Liew Daren and immediately withdrew from the Finals because of fever.
It is time for the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to rope in the back-up players. By concentrating on them, at least, there is some hope for the future. If at all the BAM want to retain the seniors, they could be hired as sparring partners.
The Project squad’s chief coach, Rashid Sidek, said that some of his players were on the verge of joining the national team.
Among them are Tan Chun Seang, Lim Kenn, Liew Daren, Choong Wei Feng, Beryno Wong, Chong Li Qun, Teo Kok Seng and Mohd Hafiz Shaharudin.
“I have decided to send some of the players to Misbun (Sidek). Currently, he (Misbun ) has only one player (Mohd Hafiz Hashim) under his charge,” said Rashid.
“It will be good for these back-up players to be groomed by Misbun. After all, Misbun prefers to coach youngsters. It is time to push these back-up players. Having them in the national team will help raise their standards as they will get more opportunities to compete.”
While changes are expected to take place, Malaysia’s hopes for honours in international tournaments this year will still rest on the shoulders of five-time national champion Lee Chong Wei, Hafiz and Wong Choong Hann.
Hafiz showed some of his good attacking shots and aggression even though he lost to Chong Wei in the final. And it augurs well for Hafiz, who is determined to lift his game to a higher level this year.