A win seems almost impossible but team manager Wong Choong Hann is quietly hoping for an upset when the national women’s team open their Badminton Asia Championships campaign against mighty Japan in Manila today.
Even without their former world champion, Nozomi Okuhara, the Japanese team are still in a different league.
It is learnt that the reigning Uber Cup champions will field World No 3 Akane Yamaguchi, World No 11 Sayaka Takahashi and World No 19 Aya Ohori for the singles while World No 2 and World No 3 Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara and Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota are expected to take to court in the doubles.
Choong Hann, who is also BAM coaching director, told Timesport that the Malaysian women’s squad must start somewhere, even when the task at hand seems too much to ask for.
“We just had our briefing. We want our players to fight all the way, try their best to grab any available chances to win.
“Yes, it’s not going to be easy but we need to start somewhere,” Choong Hann said.
Earlier this week, organisers Badminton Asia were forced to conduct a redraw after China and Hong Kong withdrew from the competition due to the coronavirus outbreak. Before that, India also withdrew their women’s team for the same reason.
As a result, the Malaysian women’s squad are already through to the knockout stage and they will not have to face Japan again.
Even then, Malaysia will need to make the top four if they want to qualify on merit for the Uber Cup in Aarhus, Denmark in May.
Choong Hann did not reveal the final lineup, but it is highly likely for Malaysia to field Soniia Cheah, Goh Jin Wei, S. Kisona and doubles pair, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Pearly Tan-M.Thinaah.