Malaysia were handed a favourable men’s team draw for the Philippines Sea Games yesterday.
The second seeds have been drawn to play the hosts in the first round and a win will likely set them up against Singapore in the semi-finals. Defending champions Indonesia and Thailand will likely battle each other in the other last-four tie.
Malaysia will not have the services of independent players Liew Daren (men’s singles), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (doubles) and Chan Peng Soon following the BA of Malaysia’s decision (BAM) to select only those from the national team.
Those on the provisional Sea Games list are Lee Zii Jia, Soong Joo Ven, Lim Chong King, Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin along with doubles shuttlers Aaron Chia, Soh Wooi Yik, Teo Ee Yi Ong Yew Sin, Goh Soon Huat and Tan Kian Meng.
Indonesia, who received a first-round bye, have named a mixed squad of regulars and second-stringers comprising Jonatan Christie, Shesar Hiren Rhustavito, Firman Abdul Kholik, Fajar Alfian, Muhammad Rian Ardianto, Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira, Ade Yusuf and Leo Rolly Carnando.
In the women’s competition, Malaysia will be without former world junior champion Goh Jin Wei, who is recovering from a colectomy surgery.
With her absence, Malaysia, who are expected to thrash Cambodia in the first round, will find it tough to beat top seeds and defending champions Thailand, who received a first-round bye, in the last four.
Soniia Cheah will lead the women’s team in Jin Wei’s absence.
Others on the provisional list are Lee Ying Ying, S. Kisona, Eoon Qi Xuan, Chow Mei Kuan, Lee Meng Yean, Vivian Hoo, Yap Cheng Wen, Shevon Lai and Lai Pei Jing.
BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann said Malaysia should not take their opponents lightly in the men’s team event.
“We need to focus on reaching the final. We are expected to face Singapore in the semi-finals, and we should not take them for granted.
“In the women’s team, we need to prepare well in the hope of overcoming Thailand in the semi-finals. It will be an uphill battle, but I want to see some progress among our shuttlers,” said Choong Hann.
In the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition, Malaysia were silver medallists in both the men and women’s team competitions.