Uber Cub: Malaysian squad Can Spring A Surprise - Ahmad Shabery
KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 (Bernama) -- Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek remains confident that the national Uber Cup squad can spring a surprise when Malaysia hosts the Thomas and Uber Cup finals at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from May 9-16.
He said despite not being the favourite, the women's team was able to surprise everyone by winning the gold medal at the Laos SEA Games.
"I am confident they (Uber Cup team) will be able to produce a similar surprise. Not only are they capable of reaching the semi-final, they can go further," he told reporters after having lunch with national shuttlers here Thursday.
National badminton Team manager Datuk Syed Abu Bakar Abdullah who echoed the minister's confidence said: "In Laos, nobody expected the women's team to win the world, so why not the Uber Cup? All they need to do is try their very best."
Women's team captain Wong Pei Tty said she and her team-mates have set a target of reaching the semi-finals for the first time.
"We will go all out and try our best," said Pei Tty, one half of the national women's doubles pair, who felt reaching the final would be a tall order.
Malaysia, drawn in Group A together with defending champion China and United States, stand a good chance of making the quarter-finals although injuries to second and third singles players, Lydia Cheah and Julia Wong threw a spanner in the team's preparations.
Their injury problem had forced the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to send an appeal to the Badminton World Federation, for a last minute replacement, on Tuesday.
Cheah, ranked 63rd in the world is expected to be replaced by Sanatasah Saniru, a youngster ranked 99th while Wong's place is expected to be filled by another youngster, Sonia Cheah.
National singles head coach Rashid Sidek, however, said BWF have yet to reply.
Apart from the duo, the Uber Cup team comprises Wong Mew Choo, Tee Jing Yi (singles), Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, Woon Khe Wei/Vivian Ho-Goh Lui Ying/Ng Hui Lin (doubles).
Meanwhile, the Thomas Cup squad, spearheaded by world number one Datuk Lee Chong Wei have been drawn in Group B together with minnows Nigeria and Japan.
Apart from Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann, Hafiz Hashim and Tan Chung Seang head the cast in the singles while three pairs, made up of Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong, Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif/Mohd Fairuzizuan Tazari and Hoon Thien How/Ong Soon Hock lead the doubles charge.
According to Rashid, Malaysia has a 50-50 chance of winning the Thomas Cup as the players have prepared well and the fact that they would be playing at home and in front of the home crowd.
National shuttlers would also be able to train at Putra Stadium prior to the finals although Ahmad Shabery admitted that BAM had made a mistake by not booking the venue early to enable our shuttlers to train there.
Source from BERNAMA
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