KUALA LUMPUR: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have taken a big gamble in naming a youngster as the reserve for the Thomas Cup Finals, which will be held in Jakarta from May 11-18 in Jakarta.
Yesterday, BAM president Datuk Nadzmi Mohd Salleh (pic) said the move to select 19-year-old Mohd Arif Abdul Latif as the fourth singles “was for the betterment of the future of Malaysian badminton”.
“He is a very promising player. He has the approval of all the coaches because of his consistency and ability to withstand pressure,” said Nadzmi after chairing a two-hour coaching and training committee meeting yesterday.
“We compared him with several other candidates and he stood out.”
The others vying with Arif were two other Project 2010-2012 players, Tan Chun Seang and Chong Wei Feng, and four seasoned campaigners – Yeoh Kay Bin, Mohd Roslin Hashim of Nusa Mahsuri and the KLRC Bhd’s Lee Tsuen Seng and Sairul Amar Ayob.
Nadzmi is aware that Arif, being inexperienced, could buckle under pressure.
It was evident at the last Finals in Japan when Kuan Beng Hong had to step up following Wong Choong Hann’s withdrawal due to an Achilles tendon rupture. A nervous Beng Hong faltered and Malaysia crashed out 2-3 to Denmark in the semi-finals.
“Yes, there will always be a risk. But we will not know what Arif is capable of unless we give him a chance,” said Nadzmi.
On Malaysia’s chances in the Thomas Cup Finals, Nadzmi said: “It is as important to us as the Olympic Games. It is a prestigious world team event and I want our players to do well. The coaches have set a semi-final target. But I hope they will go all the way and win it.”
Malaysia last won the Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1992. Five countries – China, Indonesia, Denmark and South Korea – stand in Malaysia’s way to end the 16-year wait.
For the Uber Cup Finals, the only surprise was the omission of Anita Raj Kaur, who has under-performed of late.
Youngster Tee Jing Yee, who will join Wong Mew Choo, Julia Wong and Lydia Cheah for the Jakarta trip, has replaced Anita.
In the doubles, the BAM have stuck to the three established pairs – Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, Lim Pek Siah-Ng Hui Lin, Goh Liu Ying-Woon Khe Wei.
If they can get a good draw, Malaysia have a good chance of making it to the semi-finals for the very first time after crashing out in the quarter-finals at the 2004 Finals in Jakarta.
Singles: Lee Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann, Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif.
Doubles: Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif.
Singles: Wong Mew Choo, Julia Wong, Lydia Cheah, Tee Jing Yee.
Doubles: Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, Lim Pek Siah-Ng Hui Lin, Goh Liu Ying-Woon Khe Wei.