Badminton: Hafiz, Beng Hong unlikely to lose their places in national team

KUALA LUMPUR: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are not saying it yet but singles players Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Kuan Beng Hong are set to keep their places in the national team.

After all the hoopla over the future of these two players, the BAM have named the duo as reserves for the Sudirman Cup, which will be held in Guangzhou from May 10-17.

Early this year, former All-England champion Hafiz and Beng Hong were issued an ultimatum by the BAM — to either shape up or ship out.

A decision on whether to retain them in the national team was to have been made after the Indian Open and the on-going Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in Suwon, South Korea.

Hafiz put up a creditable show in the Indian Open, defeating world junior champion Chen Long en route to the final, where he went down fighting to Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat.

But at the ABC, Hafiz fell to Chen Long in the second round, proving that his game is still plagued by inconsistency.

Beng Hong, meanwhile, went down fighting to Taufik in the quarter-finals of the Indian Open and China’s Bao Chunlai in the third round of the ABC.

The inclusion of the duo for the Sudirman Cup shows that BAM still have faith in them.

BAM president Datuk Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, however, said they would decide on Hafiz and Beng Hong’s fate after getting a report from coach Datuk Misbun Sidek next week.

“Yes, we have named them for the Sudirman Cup but only as reserves. We can name as many players as we want for this world mixed team event,” Nadzmi said after chairing the coaching and training committee meeting at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

“But we still have the right to drop the reserves just before the team leave for China. It will all depend on the report from Misbun.

“Hafiz and Beng Hong are still world class players. We cannot simply drop them. We must have very good reasons to do so. Both still have a few good years ahead of them. The can still improve.

“Let’s wait for a complete report from the coach. He (Misbun) will also take into account the players’ commitment in training and their fitness.”

The BAM will probably have to depend on Hafiz and Beng Hong again because the performances of the second echelon of shuttlers have not been very encouraging.

In the recent ABC, all top four elite back-up shuttlers — Liew Daren, Tan Chun Seang, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Chong Wei Feng — crashed out in the early rounds.

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