(File pix) Men's doubles coach Cheah Soon Kit

KUALA LUMPUR: Men's doubles coach Cheah Soon Kit believes Malaysia can top their group at the Asia Team Championship, which starts on Tuesday, in Alor Star.

Malaysia are in Group C with Taiwan, Thailand and Myanmar. The tournament serves as a Thomas Cup qualifier.

"Chances are there if we play well. Looking at Taiwan, they've got strong singles shuttlers while two of their men's pairs are in the top 10 bracket.

"However, our players have been performing too. Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong in particular have been playing really well together.

"Surely, they are a little tired having played in three tournaments so far, but they are good.

"My focus now is on our second pair (Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi), if they can do well in Alor Setar, I don't see why we can't top the group. We must play our strategy right," said Soon Kit, who left with the team on Saturday.

The former international, added that home ground advantage will also play a huge role.

"Thailand are no pushovers as we know how strong they can be in the doubles department but I am not too worried because playing here gives us an added advantage,” he said.

On whether youngsters Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani would get a chance in the competition, Soon Kit said: "Looking at the draw, it's a bit tough.”

Only the top four teams in Alor Star will earn automatic qualification to the Thomas Cup.

Malaysia are almost certain of a spot based on their overall world ranking but BA of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria wants the team to make it on merit.

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