KUALA LUMPUR: Former world No 1 Lee Chong Wei is set to lead Malaysia's charges at the Badminton Asia Team Championship in Alor Star from Feb 6 to 11 next year.
Despite indicating that he would take a three-month break after the BWF World Super Series Finals in Dubai next month, Chong Wei is expected to make a return earlier to help Malaysia qualify on merit for the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok (May).
BA of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria confirmed this on Thursday, after launching the AirAsia-BAM National Junior League here at the Selangor BA office in Kampung Attap.
"We understand that Chong Wei would like to spend some time with his family after the World Super Series Finals, and we respect that.
"What he also meant is that he will be taking a break from Open tournaments.
"As far as major competitions such as the Thomas Cup qualifier (Badminton Asia Team Championship), Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast) and Thomas Cup are concerned, we have agreed for Chong Wei to lead the team," added Norza, who does not want a backdoor qualification to badminton's most prestigious team event (Thomas Cup).
At the previous qualifiers last year, Malaysia opted to send a younger team, and as a result did not make top four, which would have guaranteed them an automatic qualification to the Thomas Cup Finals in Kunshan, China.
Malaysia, however, did make the trip after qualifying on ranking points, and even reached the semi-finals before losing 3-2 to eventual champions Denmark.
"We are not going to Alor Star to just make up the numbers. We want to go and win, therefore BAM have decided to send our strongest team. We should have our finalised squad by January.
"The same goes for the Commonwealth Games, but unlike the Thomas Cup, we can only send five men and five women to Gold Coast.
"We are sure that Chong Wei will be our main singles, and hopefully either Lee Zii Jia or Iskandar (Zulkarnain Zainuddin) would be able to accompany him as the second singles," said Norza.
Meanwhile, Selangor became the last state out of a total 15 to host the national junior league, which completes the state level competition. The champion schools from each state will next compete at the Grand Finals here in Kuala Lumpur next year.
Also present at the event was BAM treasurer and Selangor BA president Datuk V.Subramaniam.