Thursday, May 6, 2010

Badminton News: Gunalan thinks Malaysia are capable of beating China with a 3-0 scoreline


FORMER Malaysian ace and top international badminton official Datuk Punch Gunalan feels that Malaysia need to produce a “shock and awe” performance in a Thomas Cup tie against China with All-England champion Lee Chong Wei firing the first salvo if they harbour hopes of toppling the defending champions.
Malaysia are playing in Group B, which has Nigeria and Japan. And they can only be up against China in the knockout stage and it could be in the quarter-finals if they slip up against Japan and advance as group runners-up.

But Gunalan feels that it is unlikely that Malay­­sia have to take on China in the quarter-finals.
“We have two world No. 1s in Chong Wei and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong who should give us the first two points and I think we should have no major problem beating Japan. But China will be a different class of opposition,” he said.
“If we are to face China in the semi-finals, it would look like we have no chance on the surface. But if we get everything right with the proper strategy in place, we can even finish China off with a 3-0 scoreline.
“But it is crucial for Chong Wei to get the ball rolling in the first singles. Chong Wei has been unbeaten thus far this year and he will be relishing the opportunity to take on Olympic and world champion Lin Dan.
“He has everything going for him – home support, the best coaching staff and even the VIPs are behind him. Chong Wei needs to lead this team to a good start as he may not have a better chance like this in two years’ time.”
Gunalan was also the team manager of the Malaysian team who last lifted the Thomas Cup in 1992. Then, Malaysia defeated China in the semi-final and went on to beat Indonesia to claim the title.
Malaysia last played against China in the Finals in Jakarta in 2008 and were beaten 2-3 in the semi-final.
Chong Wei had beaten Lin Dan to hand Malaysia a great start but Kien Keat-Boon Heong surprisingly failed to lift their game and were beaten by Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun in the second match.
Gunalan feels that Kien Keat-Boon Heong have the upper hand against Guo Zhengdong-Xu Chen who are now the top ranked Chinese pair.
“Haifeng-Cai Yun are the second doubles pair and I feel it is better for Malaysia’s chances. If Chong Wei wins, Kien Keat-Boon Heong can use their experience and ride on the home support to give Malaysia a 2-0 cushion.
“In this situation, China will be under tremendous pressure. They are the hot favourites and will not be expecting to be down by 0-2 after the first two matches and it will be easier for our veteran, Wong Choong Hann, to take on the younger Chen Jin.
“Choong Hann will then be all psyched up to give his best shot to deliver the winning point for Malaysia. Who knows we don’t even have to play the second doubles and third singles.
“It will be difficult if Malaysia trail 1-2 or if the tie goes down to the wire as we do not have good options to play in the second doubles and third singles.”
Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif are the likely candidates to play the second doubles against world champions Haifeng-Cai Yun but coach Rexy Mainaky can opt for Hoon Thien How-Ong Soon Hock.
Barring injury, Hafiz is certain to play the third singles match in a crucial tie.
“On paper, Hafiz may look shaky against Bao Chunlai but an upset is not beyond him,” said Gunalan. “There are also many influential factors, like the environment at the venue, the home ground and the mood of the players on the day. If everything turns out our way, we can emerge triumphant.”

Taken from:

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