THE truth may hurt but it is a fact that Malaysia can no more boast of having world-class men’s doubles pairs anymore.
If the performances of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Zakry Latif-Fairuzizuan Tazari are used as a yardstick to determine the depth in the national squad, it is clear indication that Malaysia do not have reliable match winners at the moment.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong have become so inconsistent that depending on them for major honours is wishful thinking as their confidence and performance have taken a massive plunge.
There is no sign of Kien Keat-Boon Heong improving in the near future and after losing tamely to Denmark’s Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen in the quarter-finals of the All England, redemption in the Swiss Open looks unlikely.
The competition in the Swiss Open, which begins tomorrow, is a little tougher as they will open their campaign against compatriots Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen, whom they beat in straight games in Birmingham. Victory pits them against Joko Riyadi-Candra Wijaya of Indonesia.
Joko-Candra could be a handful and if Kien Keat-Boon Heong win, another tough barrier awaits in the form of He Hanbin-Sun Junjie of China in the quarter-finals.
If they are still in the competition, they will then be up against China’s Olympic silver medallists Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun. Kien Keat-Boon Heong’s run should come to an end here.
The wretched form of Zakry Latif-Fairuzizuan Tazari may see them sent packing by Japan’s Shuichi Sakamoto-Shintaro Ikeda in the first round.
If the Malaysians remain in the hunt, they are expected to meet England’s Chris Adcock-Robert Blair and if they are still around, Haifeng-Cai Yun should halt their progress in the quarter-finals.
National doubles coach Rexy Mainaky has much to ponder over the poor performance of his most experienced pairs and this includes women’s doubles World No 1 Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui.
Pei Tty-Eei Hu, who suffered a tame defeat to China’s No 4 pair Pan Pan-Tian Qing in the All England, should at least reach the last eight in the Swiss Open where they are expected to meet South Koreans Ha Jung Eun-Kim Min Jung, who could very well end their run.
Rexy seems to be running out of ideas to psyche up his players and help them become world-class pairs again and he needs to find quick solutions to remedy the malaise.
Even the back-up pairs are not impressive and despite having more than six combinations with sufficient exposure, there are not a single pair who can step up and provide support for the seniors.
Rexy needs to turn task master again to bring more urgency into his seniors as he has taken a soft stand of late. It is better for Rexy to be unpopular with his players but an effective coach as the results of the players will determine his own future in the national team.