KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s singles chief coach Rashid Sidek is resigned to the fact that old faces are set to feature for Malaysia in the Thomas Cup campaign next year.
Rashid said that the back-up shuttlers were a letdown in the two back-to-back Open tournaments in Macau and Taiwan.
He added that if they continued to make up the numbers in the national team, there was no other choice but to bring back veteran Wong Choong Hann and Mohd Hafiz Hashim to support Lee Chong Wei for the challenge in the world men’s team championships.
Malaysia are hosting the Finals at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil. They last won the Thomas Cup on home ground at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur in 1992.
Rashid said that the back-up shuttlers have had opportunities to gain experience in international competitions but they continued to give inconsistent performances.
None of the five players — Tan Chun Seang, Chong Wei Feng, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Liew Daren and Chan Kwong Beng — showed maturity in their game and were eliminated in the early rounds in Macau and Taiwan. Kwong Beng did well to beat Hong Kong’s Ng Wei in Macau but that was a one-off performance.
Based on current form, Rashid said that none of the back-up shuttlers had the ability to carry a strong challenge for Malaysia in the Thomas Cup Finals.
“This continues to be a big concern for us. These players may have a new coach but they still have their old thinking. I did not see anything extra from them,” he said.
Rashid added that he would continue to pool resources together with former world champion Hendrawan to whip up the boys.
Hendrawan was hired by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) as one of their singles coaches in July.
“Hendrawan now have a better picture of his charges. I hope he will be able to make them into better players,” he said.
Rashid agreed that Choong Hann and Hafiz had given the coaches reasons to select them in the Malaysian team to major championships.
Choong Hann defeated China’s Chen Jin and Indonesian Taufik Hidayat en route to runner-up finishes in Macau and Taiwan. Hafiz also beat several higher ranked opponents, including South Korean No. 1 Park Sung-hwan.
“Choong Hann is an independent player without a coach but he played well while Hafiz showed his hunger to play good badminton again. Hopefully this time, Hafiz’s enthusiasm is for real,” said Rashid.
“If Choong Hann and Hafiz continue to produce good results, we have to give them another shot at the Thomas Cup Finals.
“Otherwise, we will have little chance to fight for points in the singles matches.”
Meanwhile, Rashid said that the BAM would be represented by only two singles players, Chong Wei and Wong Mew Choo, in the China Masters and Japan Open this month.