Ohh….that was the last word I shouted before we turned off the TV. That is sad. The FINAL match between Japan and Malaysia in Thomas Cup, world’s most premier international men team badminton championship had just concluded. And unfortunately, Japan won. My country, Malaysia lost. The match started at 5.30pm (3pm at India time as the event was held at New Delhi for this edition) and had just ended approximately on 11.30pm (took six long hours). Must be a five neck-to-neck matches in the FINAL. Yes it was.
As expected, Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia overpowered Kenichi Tago of Japan (21-12, 21-16) easily in the first men single match, proving that he is someone very hard to be defeated in this sport eventhough he is now almost 32 years old. We were very confident of him and he secured the first point for our country. Fantastic. We were very happy as it is a good start for our national team. Next came our first men double pair; Hoon Thien How and Tan Boon Heong against Japan’s Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo. Our pair won the first round, and we thought that we could win this match too. Then, everything should be safe and smooth for us.
However, we were disappointed in the end. The Japan’s pair fight back to win the second game before triumphing again on the deciding game. Our Malaysian pair contributed quite a fair performance and I can see that both of them fight very hard. However, luck is not on their side especially on the last few crucial points which were then awarded to the Japanese pair. The result of this match is 12-21, 21-17 and 21-19 in favor of Japan. Now, it’s 1-1 (draw).
Then, came the second men single match. Our team had Chong Wei Feng and Japan sent in Kento Momota. Chong appeared to have better statistics in early matches of this tournament, but now truly facing a great challenger. In the end, he lost out in two straight games (21-15, 21-17). Opps…not good, not good. The standing is now at 2 for Japan, and 1 for Malaysia. We had to depend on the second men double to save the day. And yes, fortunately, they successfully brought joy for Malaysia back as they won the match in three games (21-19, 17-21, 12-21). They delivered outstanding performance and put back the standing to a draw. Wonderful.
Now, all hope is on the last men single match to decide on the winner of this year’s Thomas Cup. We had Liew Daren and Japan brought forward Takuma Ueda. The high pressure mounted on the players of this match is inevitable. I find that Daren doesn’t have the spirit or energy to play in the first game, hence losing it easily to the Japanese. He also tend to make a lot of serious mistakes eventhough his opponent was showing quite poor skills on court too. That was bad. However, he fought back with much effort and won the second game. This eventually led to the final rubber game. Heartstopping moments then started. And….haaihh….we were all excited as their points were very close to each other but Japan permanently stood ahead two to three points. Accompanied with little luck only to the Malaysian, Japan won the last match (21-12. 18-21, 21-17). Hmmm…
(Uber Cup trophy on the left which was won by China after winning Japan yesterday and Thomas Cup trophy on the right. Uber Cup represents female team championship)
All our hope ended. So near yet so far. We couldn’t manage to bring back the prestigious Thomas Cup trophy back to Malaysian land. The last time we celebrated the win of this tournament was way back 22 years ago in 1992. This time, we lost again unfortunately. We can see obviously the looks of all Malaysians especially our local supporters over there in the stadium. Luck is not on our side. Year 2014 must have been a bad year for Malaysia. Anyway, both Japan and Malaysia had made this FINAL very intense and awesomely displayed some of the best badminton ‘shows’ I have ever seen in recent years.
A big congratulation to Japan on winning the Thomas Cup for the first time in history. Their performance now stunned and surprised me. They had seriously improved a lot until that they can even defeat China (always regarded as the badminton giant) back in the semi-final. They were proven to be a dark horse, and they successfully won it. Hope that our national team don’t give up, get up for further training on improvement, and fight back on the next Thomas Cup in 2016.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)