KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 – Malaysia marched into the knockout stage in the Thomas Cup Finals from Group D with a smashing 5-0 win over Canada at the Ceres Arena in Aarhus, Denmark on Wednesday (Malaysian time).
With England pulled out at the eleventh hour from the men’s team event – Malaysia needed to beat Canada to confirm their berth in the quarter-finals and will next play Japan to decide the group champions.
Teams finishing on top in their respective groups will be ‘seeded’ for the quarter-final. The win over the Canadians is a certain boost for the Malaysians but the question mark is will Malaysia try another scratch combination in the doubles?
It is left to be seen what the BA of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director and his band of coaches have in their mind after splitting up Tokyo Olympics bronze medal winners Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik for the match against Canada.
The country’s top men’s singles shuttler Lee Zi Jia set the ball rolling with a straight games 21-18, 21-13 win over Brian Yang – the player who has pulled off some stunning wins over his opponents like Christie Jonathan (Indonesia) in the Sudirman Cup mixed team event in Vantaa, Finland.
Cheam June Wei played second singles, ranked No 70, played second singles against 46th ranked Jason Anthony Ho-sue and strolled to a 21-14, 21-14 win in a 40-minute encounter after coming through some resistance in both games.
Ng Tze Yong kept his cool and endured a hard game in the second to settle Malaysia’s third point after a 42-minute battle for his 21-7, 21-19 victory although at one stage the Malaysian looked like having to settle his match in a rubber.
Wooi Yik was paired up with Nur Izzuddin Rumsani in the first doubles but the Malaysians had the chemistry to breeze through a 21-17, 21-10 win over Philippe Charron-Maxime in 25 minutes. The first game settled in only eight minutes.
Aaron Chia-Goh Sze Fei completed the rout with a 21-14, 21-13 win over B.R. Sankeerth-Nyl Yakura in 37 minutes.
Zii Jia said his better mental strength paved his win over Brian whom he had beaten in the All-England. Zii Jia went on to win the prestigious tournament.
Meanwhile, Choong Hann said: “The real test is against Japan and we need to do some homework to decide on the lineups The match against Japan is the right opportunity for our players to show their stuff.”
For the record, Malaysia lost twice to Japan in the Sudirman Cup. However, it is a different ball game in the Thomas Cup and much is left on match strategies. Can Malaysia keep their smash and keep the fire burning in Aarhus?