IF the BA of Malaysia (BAM) is serious about winning gold in the 2016 Olympics, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong must be split with new combinations created immediately.
Former international Razif Sidek said Kien Keat-Boon Heong had been given ample opportunities and gone through two Olympic cycles.
The former national chief coach felt BAM can no longer compromise if it wants to prepare a strong combination to battle for gold in Rio de Janeiro.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who first saw action in the 2006 Japan Open, have been together for six years but have not won a major title. They also failed to win a medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the recent London Games.
BAM president Datuk Seri Nadzmi Salleh had strongly hinted of a split as a possible solution but secretary Ng Chin Chai, who is also the coaching and training committee chairman, has been singing a different tune of late.
Razif said BAM must be ready to make hard decisions after failing to win a medal in the men' doubles for the third consecutive Olympics.
Razif, himself, was involved in a major reshuffle where Malaysia's top pair Cheah Soon Kit-Soon Beng Kiang swapped partners with second ranked Tan Kim Her-Yap Kim Hock in 1995. The end result was an even more explosive combination in Soon Kit-Kim Hock who went on to win silver while Beng Kiang-Kim Her were semi-finalists in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
"If BAM thinks Kien Keat-Boon Heong cannot go far, they should be split immediately and combinations that have the potential to become world class pairs should be formed. If they can create two good pairs, it would be even better for Malaysia in the bid to win gold in the Rio Games," said Razif.
"The decision has to be made by the association, and the coaches and players should not be dictating terms. It will set a bad example for the junior pairs.
"There should be no compromises as winning an Olympic gold is a national agenda. They have been achieving the same results for the last six years and I don't see them doing anything different after this.
"It was also a major gamble when Soon Kit and Beng Kiang were split but we knew what kind of quality their potential partners had and they forged a formidable combination in a short period. If BAM had compromised then, we may not have won the silver through Soon Kit-Kim Hock in 1996 or managed to have two pairs in the semi-finals for the only time in the Olympics."
Former great Datuk Tan Yee Khan stressed that Kien Keat-Boon Heong must change their style of play and work hard to improve their physical condition if they want to remain among the top pairs.
He said the coaches must take charge and be in control during training and tournaments and if this was not achieved, BAM could expect players' results to further deteriorate.
"Kien Keat-Boon Heong must change their style and must work harder to improve their physical condition if they want to remain as a pair.
"Defending cannot win matches and they must also have the fitness to sustain an attacking game. If not, they will soon fade away," said Yee Khan.
"Coaches must take charge during training and the players must be forced to undergo tough drills. If a coach compromises with his players in training, he is not fit to be there.
"Discipline is the other key ingredient to success, and both players must be very focused on their careers. Without improving on their aggression, fitness and discipline, it will be difficult for them to survive in the current era where the men's doubles is played with tremendous speed and power."
BAM treasurer and member of the coaching and training committee (CTC) Datuk Lim Teong Kiat said the coaches must make recommendations on the future of Kien Keat-Boon Heong.
There has also been speculation that Kien Keat-Boon Heong may leave BAM to turn professionals if their wish to remain as a pair is not granted but Teong Kiat said that is the players' call.
"It seems they won't go any further with their current performance but I don't want to preempt the CTC meeting which will decide on the issue. The coaches are the ones who know the players well and must make a wise decision," said Teong Kiat.
"Splitting them up may be a blessing in disguise. The players might just end up getting new partners who can click with them. You never know but the call must come from the coaches and they should decide whether to retain them or split them based on strong facts.
"Players leaving BAM has become a norm and if Kien Keat-Boon Heong decide to do so, we have to let them go. However, this is only speculation and I believe the upcoming CTC meeting should be able to settle the issue."
The CTC meeting will be held on Sept 8.