KUALA LUMPUR: With just nine days to go before the Thomas Cup Finals in Wuhan from May 20-27, it appears as though the Malaysian team have already thrown in the towel.
The sombre mood in the centralised camp yesterday hardly inspired confidence. The players appear to be going through the motions without much enthusiasm and there is a distinct lack of camaraderie, which is disconcerting.
The singles and doubles players are still not training together at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara which again raises concerns about the lack of solidarity and unity in the team.
Chief coaches Rashid Sidek and Tan Kim Her are busy training the players under their charge in different corners so there is hardly any interaction.
The singles players are Lee Chong Wei, Liew Daren, Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Chong Wei Feng while the doubles pairs are Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem and Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong.
To further dampen the spirit, the country’s top player Chong Wei has been down with flu and fever again.
There are no signs of any members of the High Performance Team taking charge of the situation either. The only ones who drop by daily, albeit for a short time, are Datuk James Selvaraj and Wong Ah Jit to monitor the players who train at different times.
The gloomy mood among the players, which is in sharp contrast to how motivated the team were prior to the Thomas Cup qualifying round in Macau in February, does not augur well ahead of the Finals.
But hopes are high that the players will pick up momentum when they leave for China this Sunday to bond over five days in Guangzhou.
BAM general manager Kenny Goh said the venue for their centralised training in China from May 13-18 had been changed from Dongguan to Guangzhou.
“We were told that it was best to have the centralised training in Guangzhou as it would be more convenient for us,” said Kenny.
“We learnt that the centre in Dongguan (owned by China’s chief coach Li Yongbo) will house an additional 60 players during our stay and there could be unwanted distractions.”
It is important that the players develop a sense of mission and stick together in China. Team manager Datuk Sayed Abu Bakar has a crucial role to play as it is imperative that someone steps forward to take charge.
On paper, Malaysia’s Thomas Cup chances appear hopeless as they are seeded sixth behind China, South Korea, Japan, Denmark and Indonesia. But past records show that teams who are united can defy the odds.