KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 – After the bonze medal effort at the Sudirman Cup mixed team championships in Vantaa, Finland, Malaysia has boosted its hopes of making the knockout stage in the Thomas Cup men’s team championships which begin in Aarhus, Denmark on Saturday (Oct 9).
This comes in the wake of England’s late withdrawal from the tournament, which leaves only three teams in Group D.
Apart from Malaysia, the other teams in the group are Canada and Japan. Japan finished runners-up to China in the Sudirman Cup.
Badminton England announced their withdrawal via a statement issued on Tuesday.
”Badminton England today announced the withdrawal of the team which was scheduled to compete in the Thomas Cup later this week owing to injuries to three of the four selected singles players and have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from the tournament,” the statement said.
A quarter-final berth in the offing for Malaysia if the Malaysians beat Canada in their opening match on Oct 10 (Sunday). Malaysia’s match against Japan is on Oct 12 (Tuesday).
Just like in the Sudirman Cup, the top two teams in their respective groups will advance to the knockout stage.
For the record, Japan and Malaysia were in the same group (D) in the Sudirman Cup with the Japanese winning the group stage 4-1 to the top group.
Malaysia finished second and was not seeded for the knockout round and drew Indonesia in the quarter-finals.
However, in the quarter-finals, the Malaysians led by skipper Lee Zee Jia upstaged the Indonesians with a stunning 3-2 win to reach the semi-finals. Once again, Japan showed its supremacy over Malaysia for a 3-1 win and a place in the final.
England’s withdrawal in the Thomas Cup gives Malaysia hope but the Malaysians cannot underrate the Canadians gave a good account of themselves in Vantaa, giving teams like Indonesia and Denmark a run for their money in their group.
Despite the bronze medal, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik also had their ups and downs in their matches in Vantaa.
A new venue, a new environment come with new determinations, and Malaysia could just about upset the odds in Aarhus.