Malaysia’s journey in Thomas Cup 2016 ended in semi-final.
Thomas Cup (and Uber Cup) arrived again. These two tournaments (Thomas for male and Uber for female) are one of the most prestigious badminton tournaments and they are held once in every two years concurrently. This year, both are held in China. The reason I’m paying attention to this is because Malaysia is in it for every editions of the tournaments since their inception.
Malaysia lost out in earlier rounds in the group matches for the Uber Cup. That is expected since our girls team isn’t good all along. We just bank in on our boys team from the very beginning. So, I’ll just put my focus and a bit of my analysis and observation to Malaysia’s performance in Thomas Cup this year. In the earlier group matches, Malaysia won its opponents quite easily, including winning over South Korea. South Korea is now seen as one of the very strong countries in this particular sport and yet, Malaysia defeated them to my surprise. Hence, Malaysia topped the group and was to face Taiwan, a much easier opponent in quarter final.
We had no trouble going through that and then we made it to the semi final. Here, Malaysia was up against Denmark. It should be looking good for our side too especially when we had won the first two matches. We just need to win another match to score 3 points out of five planned matches. However, things started to get unfortunate for Malaysia from the third match onward. In first match, Lee Chong Wei won over Viktor Axelsen as predicted. However, this Denmark player gave Chong Wei a tough time but luckily, Chong Wei managed to win in two games of which their scores in both games were neck-to-neck.
The first men doubles pair, Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong also managed to make us proud by giving us a much needed second point. Then, the second single match arrived where disaster struck Malaysia. Iskandar is our player here and he had won in all his games previously in this tournament before this semi-final. He is over confident and was being too cocky after leading in the first few points. From there on, the opponent strikes back with good tactics and won over Iskandar in the end. I personally don’t like Iskandar’s attitude on court. He had to fix that up soon and he still lacks the experience needed. He must understand that only smashing will not help you to win.
Then, our second men doubles also disappointed us. Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong whom were once an excellent pair (been former world champion, former Asian Games champion, former Commonwealth Games champion) are getting old and tired already. They won first game easily but performed below expectation in the second and eventually in the rubber game as well. Finally, all hope was on Chong Wei Feng for the last match to determine which country will enter the final. Wei Feng was too slow and steady on his attacking, and he also made mistakes on net. Very obvious and careless mistakes, and he look like he has no ‘fire’ or energy at all even before he started playing. In the end, he got defeated. So, we won first two points but Denmark fought back hard to win the last three points. 3-2. Denmark won and get to proceed to the final which is scheduled to be held tomorrow. They are to face Indonesia. If Denmark win, this would be their first ever Thomas Cup victory.
The sad face our our team’s captain, Lee Chong Wei shown on TV live with a glimpse of the Thomas Cup trophy on the left of the screen. There are still many things needed to be done to improve on our national badminton team, for both the boys and the girls. Denmark stunned me yesterday in the semi final with some excellent performance that I didn’t expect that could come out from them. They proved that an European country can still do very well in a sport favored in Asia. I was thinking that maybe Malaysia has chance to win the cup for the 6th time this year after we saw the surprising exit of China and South Korea in the quarter final. That hope went to an abrupt end in the semi final yesterday of which I did watch the matches live from YouTube. We have to accept the fact that we lost again and we have to move on. They did their best but certainly could be much better. So now, the next thing I’m looking forward to is seeing some of our players doing very well and winning a medal or two in Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games that will arrive in less than three months from now.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)