'Zii Jia should apologise first'

KUALA LUMPUR: While the signs are pointing towards world No 4 Lee Zii Jia making a sensational comeback to the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM), it does not seem like it will take place anytime soon.

A BA of Malaysia (BAM) council member, who wished to remain anonymous, believes it is still premature to link the 2021 All England champion with a possible return to the national setup barely 14 months after turning professional.

Speculation is rife that BAM is prepared to open its doors to Zii Jia for a second stint, with its president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria uploading pictures of him with the latter on social media earlier this week.

Norza, also the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president and co-chairman of the Road to Gold programme, also pledged to fully back Zii Jia regardless of whether the shuttler returns to ABM.

"I don't think so. The whole thing is still very hypothetical at this point, be it returning as a national player or training full-time with the national team under the RTG programme," responded the official of Zii Jia's possible return to the national team stable.

"I think what they will do is they may put him in the RTG programme, and he will continue to train somewhere else.

The official went on to stress that if Zii Jia does indeed rejoins the national team, the latter must first issue an apology and adhere to the terms set by the national body.

When Zii Jia first quit BAM in January last year, he claimed the decision was driven by pressure and difficulty coping with the regimented training programme.

"If he really wants to rejoin (ABM), he (Zii Jia) must first apologise. He went out telling people that the best time of his life was when he left BAM. If this is so, why does he want to come back?" questioned the official.

"If he gets to just train full-time (without rejoining the national team), then he will have his cake and eat it.

"He will have the best of both worlds.

"Is that fair to our sponsors, Yonex and Petronas? We have conveyed our thoughts to the president.

"Whether coming back as a national player or being part of RTG, I think it's only right for him to comply with the terms set by BAM or the RTG committee."

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