KUALA LUMPUR: None of Malaysia’s men’s singles shuttlers won at last week’s Asian Badminton Champion-ships (ABC) in Taiwan but national singles coach Rashid Sidek is pleased with their good showing against China’s top players.
And the coach believes that the Malaysian shuttlers are growing in confidence against Chinese players.
Chong Wei Feng defeated Gao Huan before going down fighting to Chen Long 17-21, 15-21 in the semi-finals; Liew Daren gave Du Pengyu a run for his money before losing 24-26, 19-21; and back-up shuttler Goh Soon Huat played with confidence to stretch Chen Long before succumbing 20-22, 18-21.
Rashid feels that the Malaysian shuttlers have closed the gap on their Chinese counterparts.
“Our players gave the Chinese shuttlers a good fight at the ABC. That was quite positive. We used to be beaten easily by the Chinese players,” said Rashid.
“We used to give them too much respect but, I think, the difference in standard is not too great now.”
Rashid was quite impressed with Soon Huat’s confident play despite his lack of experience. Soon Huat is one of the players under coach Hendrawan’s charge.
“How often have we seen our back-up players holding the Chinese players by the scruff of the neck? Soon Huat did exactly that ... unfortunately, he lost because he lacked experience. But this should give him the self-belief that he can match – or even beat – the Chinese players in the future,” said Rashid.
“Daren and Wei Feng have also improved. With more solid physical training programmes, they can narrow the gap. Hopefully, we’ll see some breakthroughs.”
Rashid expects the men’s singles tussle to be a more open affair now that Lin Dan will be absent from most of the international tournaments.
“Chen Long is China’s top player but he’s not as consistent as Lin Dan on the international stage. He is beatable ... as is the other Chinese players. I have not seen one who is as complete a player as Lin Dan in China’s camp,” said Rashid.
“Hopefully, our players will take advantage of this and go the extra mile to catch up with them.”