Bad call for Zii Jia to skip Thomas Cup

KUALA LUMPUR: Former international Ong Ewe Hock believes there is no reason for Lee Zii Jia not to answer the national call-up for the Thomas Cup Finals from April 28-May 5 as long as he is fit to play.

Ewe Hock, 52, who was with the Malaysian side that finished runners-up in 1994, 1998 and 2002, said the national team can't afford to head to Chengdu without their best men's singles player.

Zii Jia, through his manager Lee Zii Yii and coach Wong Tat Meng, has conveyed to BAM that he might opt out from the Thomas Cup Finals to concentrate on his preparations for the Paris Olympics.

"By right, he must play for Malaysia because the Thomas Cup is the most prestigious team event in the world," said Ewe Hock.

"Unless he's injured, he has to play. The Thomas Cup Finals is akin to the World Cup of football; it's massive, and the nation's pride is at stake.

"So how can Malaysia go into the competition with a weakened squad?"

Ewe Hock also believes that the Thomas Cup Finals would help much in Zii Jia's preparations for the Olympics.

"If his reason to skip the Thomas Cup Finals is due to the Olympics, but they're still three months away. In fact, playing in the Thomas Cup will be good for him while preparing for the Paris Games," said Ewe Hock.

If anything, Ewe Hock's statement does hold some merit.

If improving his world ranking and fine-tuning his game is what prompted world No. 11 Zii Jia to skip the Thomas Cup Finals, then there is even more reason for him to join the team in Chengdu.

After all, the Thomas Cup Finals do offer substantial ranking points that could help Zii Jia in his quest to break into the world's top eight.

That, of course, depends on how he fares.

In the group stage itself, where Malaysia are bunched alongside Denmark, Hong Kong, and Algeria, Zii Jia will get to be tested in potentially highly competitive first singles duels against the likes of world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen and No. 14 Lee Cheuk Yiu.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories