ALTHOUGH visibly shocked and disappointed, world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei made a clarion call to his team-mates to bounce back from their surprise 3-2 defeat to Taiwan.
Yesterday, Chong Wei and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying were the only winners in Malaysia’s Group C opening tie against Taiwan at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Hosts Malaysia had hoped for a flying start but top doubles pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong were blown apart 18-21, 18-21 by Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin in 31 minutes.
Sonia Cheah was expected to salvage the situation but she only lasted 28 minutes before bowing out at 7-21, 13-21 to a determined Tai Tzu-ying.
Like the saviour he had been for countless times, Chong Wei restored some order when he blew away Yang Chih-hsun 21-8, 21-13 in just 24 minutes to the delight of the home fans to keep Malaysia’s hope alive at 1-2.
Then, all hoped rested on top women doubles shuttlers Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo to defy the odds against the more experienced Cheng Wen-hsing-Hsieh Pei-chen but they lost 17-21, 19-21 despite playing their hearts out.
In a match that had no bearing, Peng Soon-Liu Ying beat Lu Ching-yao-Lai Chia-wen 25-23, 21-11, for the overall 3-2 score in favour of Taiwan.
Chong Wei admitted that the shock defeat of Kien Keat-Boon Heong had rattled the team.
“I did not expect Koo and Tan to lose. They did not play to the rhythm of their game. They committed plenty of mistakes,” said Chong Wei.
“Sonia too could not handle the pressure although she had beaten Tzu-ying twice during the Axiata Cup. Playing in the Sudirman Cup is different.
“But I hope the team will not give up. The road has become tougher but we can still rise from this defeat.
“We will be playing Germany next (tomorrow). We need to win to keep alive our hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals. We will support and encourage each another. The battle is not over.”
Vivian-Khe Wei was disappointed that they could not save the tie for Malaysia although they knew the team depended on them.
“We have never met them and tried our best but it was not good enough,” said Khe Wei.
Vivian, who was only a reserve in the team two years ago, said: “We lost but this is not the time to cry over it. We still have a chance and we must re-focus on the next tie against Germany.”
“There was certainly more pressure playing than sitting on the bench but it was certainly a great experience for me. We will only get better from here.”
Group A: China bt India 5-0.
Group B: Thailand bt Hong Kong 3-2.
Group C: Taiwan bt Malaysia 3-2 (Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin bt Tan Boon Heong-Koo Kien Keat 21-18, 21-18; Tai Tzu-ying bt Sonia Cheah 21-7, 21-13; Yang Chih-hsun lost to Lee Chong Wei 8-21, 13-21; Cheng Wen-hsing-Hsieh Pei-chen bt Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo 21-17, 21-19; Lu Ching-yao-Lai Chia-wen lost to Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Yong 23-25, 11-21.)
Group D: Denmark bt Singapore 4-1.
Group A: Scotland bt Russia 4-1.
Group A: Sweden bt United States 3-2.
Group A: Sri Lanka bt Turkey 3-2; Philippines bt New Zealand 3-2.
Group B: Vietnam bt Kazakhstan 5-0, Australia bt Lithuania 4-1.
n TODAY’S FIXTURES
Group A: Indonesia vs India
Group D: Japan vs Singapore
Group B: South Korea vs Hong Kong
Group C: Germany vs Taiwan
Group B: Holland vs Australia
Group B: France vs Canada
Group A: Ukraine vs Philippines, New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
Group B: Switzerland vs Kazakhstan, Vietnam vs Lithuania