Can shuttler Zii Jia survive without a coach?

KUALA LUMPUR: With the Olympic qualifiers fast approaching and a tough new season ahead, did world No 2 Lee Zii Jia shoot himself in the foot by dropping his coach Indra Wijaya?

Indra, 48, today confirmed that he has parted ways with the 24-year-old independent men's singles shuttler following a meeting on Friday.

According to the Indonesian, Zii Jia wants to try a new approach.

With social media abuzz, one cannot but wonder if the Kedah-born Zii Jia has prematurely put paid to his career following his latest controversial decision.

Former international Rashid Sidek told Timesport that players and coaches are nearly inseparable as far as badminton is concerned.

Declining to comment much on Zii Jia's choice, Rashid, a former chief coach with the BA of Malaysia (BAM), said: "As far as I know, badminton players need coaches. This is because a coach has a different perspective from the player.

"Coaches see the mistakes or what needs rectification during a match. Coaches are also the ones who know what needs improving and the necessary programmes and drills in training.

"I'm not saying that all coaches are perfect, but it is a never-ending learning process for both parties, players and coaches alike.

"I have no idea why Zii Jia decided to drop his coach, neither am I in a position to comment on his choice. All I know is Indra was the one who brought Zii Jia up from his junior days, so this news comes as a shocker to me."

Badminton fans on opposite ends of the Zii Jia bandwagon were also quick to share their thoughts on social media.

"I hope Zii Jia will be successful following this decision," said one Facebook user.

"That's the problem with going professional. If you don't like your coach, you can replace him. You can't be reprimanded for your own good," said another.

Some were even more sarcastic, especially given Zii Jia's recent poor showing, which saw him miss out on the season-ending World Tour Finals on Dec 7-11 in Bangkok.

"Every time you lose - which is quite often - your fans say 'come back stronger'. You must be stronger than Hercules — so strong to even throw your coach away," said a badminton fan.

Following the departure of Indra, who is now a free agent, the remaining team members of Team Lee Zii Jia are Sandra Fiedler (physiotherapist), Liew Daren (assistant coach and sparring partner), Lim Joe Heang (physical trainer) and Zii Jia's sister, Lee Zii Yii, who is also his manager.

One of the top players on the circuit, who is without a coach is Taiwan's Chou Tien Chen. The 32-year-old usually takes instructions from his physiotherapist at tournaments.

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