Kuala Lumpur: When Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung were set to return to competition after getting their one year suspension lifted by the Badminton World Federation early April, competition in Group C of Thomas Cup is expected to be tough for Malaysia.
With Malaysia’s doubles pairs’ recent poor results, the task of trying to top the group seems even more daunting, considering the Korean has proven that its temporary men's doubles Yeon-seong-Sa-rang combined well to make the semi-finals of the Singapore Open during the absence of Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung.
Can you spot Lee Chong Wei and Lee Yong-dae in these pictures?Can you spot Lee Chong Wei and Lee Yong-dae in these pictures?
Furthermore, World No. 25 Ko Sung-hyun-Shin Baek-cheol, the third Korean pair, also hit a good patch with semi-final showings in the Singapore meet and the All-England. Any combinations of these guys could form equally powerful pairings.
Then again, the Malaysian could rely on World No.1. Lee Chong Wei to secure one point; Chong Wei Feng and Daren Liew are capable of causing an upset even as they have struggled in various tournaments in recent months. Malaysia also has Tan Boon Heong who is a versatile player and capable of adjusting to different tactics and strategies. Chan Peng Soon is also an intelligent doubles player who could pose serious threats to the opponents.
Goh V Shem said the coaches are working on appropriate strategies against the Korean since they are tactically very strong in doubles. Throughout the centralized camp, Malaysian coaches had many reshufflings among the men's doubles players trying to find the best combinations.
"If we can become the champion in Group C, we will avoid China and Indonesia in the quarter-finals. In order to do that, we'll need to defeat our strongest rival within the group, which is Korea. We are confident we can beat India and Germany," said V Shem at Juara Stadium yesterday.
"We have been playing close attentions to Korean pairs' strengths and weaknesses. We are all geared up and ready to play in New Delhi."
Should the coaches decided not to try out any new combinations of men's doubles, Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah will play second doubles for Malaysia after World No 7 Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong.
Malaysia will face India on Sunday, Germany on Monday and South Korea on Wednesday. Only top two teams of each group will advance to the knockout stages. It is very unlikely Korea will make any changes to its doubles line up simply because their present pairings have better head-to-head matchup records against Malaysia's men's doubles.