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Lee Chong Wei Leads Malaysia Thomas Cup Hopes

Kuala Lumpur - Top seeds Malaysia will be favourites to qualify for the Finals of the Thomas Cup after they were give a favourable draw for the qualifying tournament.

At the draw in Kuala Lumpur on February 3, Malaysia were drawn against Chinese Taipei, Philippines and Cambodia in Group A for the Asian Zone qualifiers, which take place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from February 19-24.

Leading the way for Malaysia is world number two and recent Malaysian Open champion Lee Chong Wei.

He will be backed up by former All England champion Hashim Muhd Hafiz, ranked 24th and world number 15 Wong Choong Hann.

Chinese Taipei are expected to provide the biggest challenge but the Malaysians should have plenty of firepower in their squad to finish top of the group and qualify for the quarter-finals.

Second-seeded Korea, who include Korean Open champion Lee Hyun-il, will play Singapore and Vietnam in Group B and are expected to finish top of their pool.

Lee is ranked 14 in the world and will probably be their number two singles player behind Park Sung-hwan, who is ranked 12th.

The Korean's main strength, however, lies in the doubles where Lee Yong-dae and Jung Jae-sung are ranked sixth in the world.

They also boast the world's 10th-ranked pair in Hwang Ji-man and Lee Jae-jin.

Japan, the third seeded team, have probably the easiest task of the leading teams when they take on India and Pakistan in Group C.

The highest-ranked Indian player is Sridhar Anup, at 27, while Pakistan's Ali Wajid is their top shuttler at 170.

Japan will be led by their star player, 17th-ranked Shoji Sato.

Fourth-seeds Hong Kong are favourites to win Group D but may have a tough time going about their business.

They play Thailand, Sri Lanka and Macau and need to finish in the top two if they are to qualify for the last eight.

Hong Kong have two players in the world's top 25, world number 19 Chan Yan-kit and 22nd-ranked Ng Wei.

Thailand are sure to give their Hong Kong rivals a hard time with Ponsana Boonsak, at number 11, the second highest-ranked player in the tournament behind Malaysia's Lee.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals, with the four semi-finalists qualifying for the Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta, Indonesia in May.

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