National men’s singles head coach, Datuk Misbun Sidek speaks to reporters at klia2.Pic by Owee Ah Chun

SEPANG: National men’s singles head coach, Datuk Misbun Sidek is hoping to see the Malaysian shuttlers lift the coveted Thomas Cup and end the 26-year drought by Malaysia to claim victory in the tournament before he retires.

Misbun, a former national badminton singles player, did not discount the possibility that the Thomas Cup edition this time would be his last involvement with the national team for the competition to be held for eight days beginning Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Yes, maybe the last. That is why I hope that the national team can create a surprise. Although after retiring as a coach, I would certainly hope that the Malaysian shuttlers would succeed at every edition of the Thomas Cup and see that Malaysia emerge as champion.

“With the preparations that we have made over the past several months, I see that the team members are highly spirited. I hope all the singles players as well as the doubles can work together to realise the dream of ending the 26-year drought without any championship title,” he said.

He said this when approached by reporters at the KLIA2, here today before departing for Bangkok.

The Thomas Cup squad this time is headed by national badminton ace, Datuk Lee Chong Wei alongside young players, Lee Zii Jia, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and Leong Jun Hao.

The men’s doubles comprise Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, while Teo Ee Yi will partner professional shuttler Mohd Arif Latif.

Meanwhile, commenting on the challenge posed by defending champion Denmark, Russia and Algeria in Group D, Misbun said it was a heavy responsibility although Malaysia was expected to easily qualify for the quarter-finals.

Malaysia begins the campaign by facing Russia on Monday, and later meets Algeria (Tuesday) and complete the matches at the group stage by playing against Denmark on Wednesday.

“The competition this time appears to be easy but the fact is that it is a heavy responsibility. Every nation will certainly field their best players to emerge as the champion in this edition,” said Misbun.

For the record, Malaysia was jolted by Denmark 2-3 in the semifinal of the 2016 edition in Kunshan, China, thus failing to repeat the 2014 success of reaching the final in New Delhi, India.--BERNAMA

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