Wei Feng feels Zii Jia's move will affect Thomas Cup team [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: At this point of time, there is no saying how Lee Zii Jia's absence from the Thomas Cup centralised training camp will affect the Malaysian team.

According to two-time Thomas Cupper Chong Wei Feng, players in the past, both national and professional, would report for centralised camp to train and develop team unity before the world team event.

However, amid the controversy over Zii Jia's image rights in wearing the national jersey at the Thomas Cup in Chengdu, China, on April 27-May 5, Team LZJ issued a statement on Tuesday stating that the world No. 10 will continue with his personal training programme under coach Wong Tat Meng, before joining the rest of the Malaysian squad on April 24.

This unprecedented move has drawn mixed reactions from the local badminton fraternity.

Wei Feng, a member of the last Malaysian team to reach the Thomas Cup final a decade ago, told Timesport: "I feel personally Zii Jia's decision to skip the centralised training camp will affect the team.

"In a positive way or not, I don't know, because this has never happened before.

"Perhaps his team and BAM have discussed this arrangement prior, and know exactly what they are doing.

"At this point of time, all we can do is wait and see."

Emphasising the importance of team spirit, Wei Feng said nobody expected the Malaysian team to reach the Thomas Cup final in New Delhi in 2014.

But the team consisting of Lee Chong Wei, Liew Daren, Wei Feng, Tan Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How, Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong upset the form book by not losing a single tie, en route to the final before going down 3-2 to Japan.

"Nobody gave us the slightest chance of reaching the final because apart from Chong Wei, who had the highest percentage to deliver the first point, the rest of us were nowhere close," said Wei Feng.

"In fact, Daren and I were not even in the world top 10.

"But we were united. All in all, we would have trained and played together for about six months before the Thomas Cup challenge.

"I can't believe that it has been 10 years since," added Wei Feng who did not lose a single match in the 2014 Thomas Cup campaign, except for in the final, to a up and coming Kento Momota.

Wei Feng, the 2015 Sea Games champion, retired in 2019 and now runs his own badminton academy in several places in the Klang Valley.

For this year's Thomas Cup, Malaysia are in Group D with Denmark, Hong Kong and Algeria.

At the previous edition in Bangkok, Malaysia were knocked out in the quarter-finals, following a 3-2 defeat to eventual champions India.

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