IT took two big blows in the Sudirman Cup to expose Malaysia’s lack of depth and a rather disturbing future in the national badminton team.
The dream of reaching the semi-finals at home was shattered when Malaysia lost both their Group C ties at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil. Taiwan served the first blow on Sunday with a 3-2 win and German knocked them out with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.
While Taiwan and Germany advanced to the quarter-finals with huge smiles, Malaysia were left in tears despite having home ground advantage.
It was Malaysia’s second defeat to Germany in the Sudirman Cup. In 2001 at Sevilla, Spain, Malaysia had also lost 3-2 to Germany.
Interestingly, on both occasion, Malaysia won their men’s singles and doubles events but dropped points in the women’s singles, doubles and mixed.
The sad situation is that even after 12 long years, Malaysia have not shown any sign of improvement as far as the depth of the team is concerned despite so many changes in the training and coaching structures.
Their weakness in the women’s department continued to be glaring.
Both Sonia Cheah and Tee Jing Yi are the country’s top two women singles shuttlers but both displayed toothless performances on court. They have done well in the past but when it came to the crunch, they could not deliver.
Malaysian fans have seen far better performances from Sonia and Jing Yi but surprisingly, they played like novices against Tai Tzu-ying and Olga Konon in the group ties respectively.
Maybe, they were not mentally ready?
Without retired seniors Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, the spotlight was on Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei to step up the plate in the women’s doubles. Much was expected but in reality, they just lacked the extra punch.
They have potential but more work is needed to guide Khe Wei to be more aggressive to support Vivian.
Maybe, they were just not ready?
Hope was high on mixed doubles specialists Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying. After all, the duo had gradually taken Malaysia’s mixed doubles to a higher level over the last three years but they fell flat at home when it mattered most.
Their win could have turn the tide for Malaysia against the Germans.
Maybe, mentally they were not ready too?
The men shuttlers delivered but there were mixed responses.
World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei won all his matches and played saviour again. But while all countries were trying out their future stars, Malaysia continued to show that only Chong Wei is the reliable one.
If Chong Wei was rested, would Liew Daren or Chong Wei Feng have delivered the point?
The coaches did not take the gamble by fielding their second echelon of players against Taiwan and Germany, and well, that speaks volume of how much confidence they had in them. Hardly, any.
In the men’s doubles, the coaches’ faith and over reliance on Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong despite their lack of form backfired big time when the duo went down tamely to Taiwanese Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin.
Fortunately, sense prevailed and they fielded Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem against the Germans and the duo delivered.
If only the coaches were brave enough to give the younger pair a chance in the first place. Maybe, Malaysia would have been playing in the quarter-finals today and the Putra Stadium would have been packed with fans.
Malaysia need to regain the faith of their waning fans. They also need coaches brave enough to make the right decisions. Malaysia need to stop depending on an elite group of players. If not, this cycle of never performing up to expectations, will just continue.