Let’s qualify on merit!
That’s the battle cry from national men’s doubles Aaron Chia as Malaysia prepare to do battle in the Badminton Asia Team Championships, which begin in Manila today.
Aaron is aware that despite the absence of China and Hong Kong from the meet, there is still pressure on the Malaysian shuttlers to make the semi-finals and qualify on merit for the Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark in May.
Malaysia should have no problem qualifying for the quarter-finals following a redraw by Badminton Asia on Monday after China and Hong Kong pulled out from the competition following a travel ban imposed by the Philippines due to the coronavirus outbreak.
India had earlier withdrawn their women’s team from the competition, which also serves as a qualifier for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup.
Malaysia’s men’s team should comfortably book their spot in the last eight in Manila after being drawn in Group B with India and minnows Kazakhstan.
Although Malaysia will open their campaign Kazakhstan, Aaron has urged his teammates not to let their guard down.
“I don’t want to comment much on the tie tomorrow (today) against Kazakhstan. If the coach decides to field me, I intend to win a point for our team,” said Aaron.
Malaysia should not have any problem seeing off Kazakhstan today. Their first real test will come when they meet India tomorrow.
Prior to the redraw, Malaysia were in the same group as Taiwan and Singapore.
Should Malaysia fail to reach the last four, they are still expected to reach the Thomas Cup Finals as their accumulative world ranking should suffice.