PETALING JAYA: Wong Choong Hann still has faith in singles shuttlers Leong Jun Hao and Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin despite their shaky performances in recent tournaments.
In fact, the national singles coaching director Choong Hann has confirmed that Jun Hao and Aidil will be included in the squad for the Thomas Cup Finals from May 8-15 in Bangkok.
The others already assured of their places are world No. 7 and recently-turned independent shuttler Lee Zii Jia and Badminton Association of Malaysia’s No. 1 Ng Tze Yong.
Choong Hann can still include another two singles players as a country is allowed to have a maximum of 12 players.
Earlier, national doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky has named Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi as his top three picks.
“We are allowed to take 12 players but I will discuss with Rexy first before deciding whether we will take five or six singles players,” said Choong Hann.
“But for now, Jun Hao and Aidil are still part of my plan for the Thomas Cup because they are good team players.”
The duo did well en route to Malaysia emerging as the champions in the Asia Team Championships in Shah Alam in February.
In the last two Opens over the last two weeks though, the duo suffered minor hiccups.
Jun Hao reached the quarter-finals of the Polish Open but crashed out in the first round of the Orleans Masters.
Aidil did not clear the early rounds of both tournaments.
“Aidil and Jun Hao are hard working and have shown good commitment in training, I’ve no doubt about their potential,” said Choong Hann.
“In team events, they are often considered as the underdogs, so their determination to prove themselves is high. In Open tournaments though, they put too much expectations on themselves and their movements become restricted.
“It’s a matter of self belief and I know, they will be able to overcome this.”
On choosing the rest of the players for the Finals, Choong Hann said he would keep his options open.
As Malaysia have already named Lim Chong King, Jacky Kok, Lee Shun Yang and Justin Hoh for the Vietnam SEA Games, which clashes with the Thomas Cup Finals, Choong Hann will have to look at other juniors from the national team or open the door to other independent players.
“We still have time to decide and will surely name the best. It all depends on our team’s tactical plan, “he said.
The independent shuttlers still within the top 100 rankings are Liew Daren (35), Cheam June Wei (71), and Soong Joo Ven (65). The BAM players who can be considered are Ong Ken Yon (280), Shaqeem Eiman Shahyar (412), and Wyman Goh (846).
Malaysia lost to Indonesia in the quarter-finals at the last edition in Aarhus, Denmark.
This year, they have a good draw to reach the last eight again but hopes are high for them to go beyond that.
Malaysia last won the Thomas Cup in 1992.