Tat Meng faces a two-pronged challenge

KUALA LUMPUR: Coach Wong Tat Meng will have two major challenges in his bid to take the national men’s singles players out of the slump in international tournaments. 

First, he has to lift the morale of the players, especially that of Lee Chong Wei, whose form is suffering a slide. And the more important task for Tat Meng is to ensure that players do not leave the national camp to join clubs as an option to revive their fledging career. 

Last year, Chong Wei was considering playing for the Kuala Lumpur Racket Club (KLRC). 

This year, the world number four, together with Kuan Beng Hong, studied the option of getting Victor as their sponsors. They had discussions with the sponsors during the National Grand Prix Finals in Kuala Terengganu in February. 

With the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) practising an open door policy in allowing club players, including those from Nusa Mahsuri and KLRC, to represent the country in major tournaments, national players now have an option to pursue their career under club banners. 

“For now, building the players’ confidence is most vital. The main goal is the World Championships and I will give my best to ensure that the players are back in top form,” said Tat Meng. 

To re-ignite the fire in them, Tat Meng has met the players and they have all agreed that some changes were needed in their training programme. 

Tat Meng said that there was no fear of players switching camps. 

“Since I took up the coaching job, the players have given me their full support. They have agreed to work together as a team,” he said. 

Besides Chong Wei and Beng Hong, the others in the national camp under Tat Meng are Wong Choong Hann, Yeoh Kay Bin, K. Yogendran and James Chua. 

On the possibility of Chong Wei and Beng Hong moving to KLRC, he said: “Last year, Li Mao (the Chinese coach, who has left to join the Korean BA in February) told me that Chong Wei and the club had a discussion. But nothing came out it. 

“In my capacity as a coach, I will make sure that my team of players stay together. But if they choose to leave, it is something for the BAM management to deal with.” 

Meanwhile, the KLRC owner, Datuk Seri Andrew Kam, neither confirmed nor denied that there were players in the current national team wanting to join his club. 

“We are always open to any player who wants to pursue the goal of becoming a world beater. If players leave the BAM, it will be with the blessing of the national body,” he said. 

“But one must be clear that a player joining the club may not be doing it just for the money. There could be other reasons and one of them could be the need for a suitable coach.” 

The KLRC have two coaches in their ranks – former national coach Indra Gunawan and former national player Ong Beng Teong. 

Under Indra, national team discard Sairul Amar Ayob won his first international title at the Dutch Open last year while Lee Tsuen Seng emerged as the New Zealand Open champion. 

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