Fans want Zii Jia to play in Thomas Cup

KUALA LUMPUR: Fans of Malaysian badminton star Lee Zii Jia want their idol to play at the Thomas Cup in Chengdu, China, later this month.

Many fans see the Thomas Cup as the perfect platform for Zii Jia to test himself against the world's best men's singles players and earn valuable ranking points ahead of the Paris Olympics in July.

Earlier, Zii Jia had conveyed to the BA of Malaysia (BAM) that he might skip the Thomas Cup to concentrate on his preparation for the Olympics.

The world No. 11 also informed BAM coaching director Rexy Mainaky that he wants to improve his world ranking and break into the top eight.

However, due to the tight tournament schedule, his team felt that competing in the Thomas Cup could be a little too much for Zii Jia to manage.

Similarly, Zii Jia opted to stay out of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games two years ago to focus on the World Championships.

urprisingly, his fan base doesn't believe that skipping the Thomas Cup is the right decision.

"If Zii Jia intends to have his own training or sparring programme, who does he want to spar with?

"All the top 10 players will be in Chengdu," questioned one fan on X.

"Zii Jia can collect ranking points if he can win against players like Lee Cheuk Yiu (Hong Kong) or Viktor Axelsen (Denmark).

"Furthermore, this is his best chance to spar against the top players. He can't just rely on his regular sparring partners Lee Shun Yang and Lim Chong Kim," added another X user.

Zii Jia and his team still have time to think before making a decision, as the closing date to finalise Malaysia's Thomas Cup and Uber Cup teams is April 13.

Next week, Zii Jia will compete at the Asian Championships in Ningbo, China.

On Saturday, BAM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria urged the best players to come forward to represent the country in the Thomas Cup as it was a matter of pride and honour.

Former international and Thomas Cup winner Rashid Sidek thinks Malaysia may not even clear the group stage without their strongest lineup.

Another top men's singles player, Ng Tze Yong, is racing against time to recover from spinal disc surgery.

In this year's edition, Malaysia find themselves in Group D alongside European champions Denmark, Hong Kong, and Algeria.

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