Zii Jia out of Thomas Cup? [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a possibility that Malaysia's No. 1 Lee Zii Jia will skip the Thomas Cup in Chengdu, China, on April 27-May 5.

Although nothing has been confirmed, it is understood that the independent player would prefer to use the little time he has to improve his world ranking, which is currently No. 11, before the Paris Olympics in July.

Speaking to the press after meeting with Team LZJ's manager Lee Zii Yii and coach Wong Tat Meng, BA of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Rexy Mainaky said: "We need to understand that this year the Thomas Cup is being held in the same year as the Olympics.

"Of course, everyone will want to prioritise the Olympics.

"Based on my discussion with Zii Yii and Tat Meng, we understand that the shuttler has only a few more tournaments to compete in to try and improve his world rankings.

"He will play in the Asian Championships (April 9-14), and after that, he has the Malaysia Masters (May 21-26), Singapore Open (May 28-June 2), Indonesia Open (June 4-9) and the Australian Open (June 11-16).

"We will discuss again to see what works best for both parties."

The closing date to finalise Malaysia's Thomas Cup and Uber Cup squads is April 13.

In truth, the Malaysian team will look depleted should Zii Jia decide to skip the Thomas Cup since No. 2 men's singles player Ng Tze Yong is still recovering from spinal disc surgery.

When asked if he had a backup plan, Rexy added: "For sure, there is a backup plan, but let's not discuss it yet and make any premature speculations.

"We still have time until April 13 to finalise the squads, and I will meet with Zii Yii and Tat Meng again."

For the Thomas Cup this year, Malaysia are in Group D with European champions Denmark, Hong Kong and Algeria.

At the previous edition in Bangkok two years ago, Malaysia stunned favourites Japan in the group stage but crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 3-2 to eventual champions India.

Malaysia last won the coveted Thomas Cup way back in 1992.

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