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No Chong Wei but coach has faith Tigers can pull through
LEE Chong Wei will not play in the first leg of the Axiata Cup semi-finals in Jakarta today but national singles coach Tey Seu Bock believes Malaysia Tigers can still overcome Indonesia Garuda with a strong performance in the return leg on Sunday.
The decision by Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) to use yesterday's world ranking will also give Tigers some advantage as Liew Daren, ranked World No 30, will be the first singles ahead of Hafiz Hashim, ranked No 32, and Seu Bock said there is a chance to steal a point in Jakarta which will make a big difference in Kuala Lumpur.
Daren is set to play Taufik Hidayat in the first singles while Seu Bock said Hafiz, who has never beaten Taufik, will have a fighting chance against Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the second singles.
National doubles head coach Tan Kim Her has also rested Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and their replacements Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah have done well in team events and will have an outside chance against either Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano or Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan.
"Chong Wei will not play in the first leg but will most likely play in the second leg. If we can take a point, it will make a big difference in the second leg and the opportunity is there for us to upset Garuda," said Seu Bock.
"It will be tough in the first singles as Taufik is difficult to beat but Daren should try to drag the match into three games while Hafiz has an even chance to beat Sony.
"If Garuda win 2-1, the pressure will be on them. Chong Wei can be utilised for the return leg while Kien Keat-Boon Heong will also play and we have a chance of beating them.
"We must avoid losing 3-0 as that will give Garuda a big advantage but if any of our two singles or the doubles win, the semi-final is very much open."
Garuda may also decide to play Simon Santoso in the first singles and pit Taufik against Hafiz though it may not happen in Jakarta.
In the other semi-final, Indonesia Rajawali hold the advantage over Malaysia Leopards whose only concern will be to avoid a heavy defeat in both legs.
Misbun Ramdan Misbun has an outside chance against Tommy Sugiarto but Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin will find the going tough against Dionisius Hayom Rumbaka in the first leg in KL tomorrow.
Rajawali are also solid in the doubles where Alvent Yulianto-Hendra Gunawan and Angga Pratama-Rian Agung Saputra are stronger than Ow Yao Han-Chooi Kah Ming and Teo Ee Yi-Nelson Heg. By K.M. Boopathy