MALAYSIAN women’s shuttlers are usually not considered a big threat to others in international competitions but this perception may change soon.
In marching into the semi-finals of last week’s Asian championships in Manila, Soniia Cheah and company proved that they are certainly no pushovers.
So much so, the Malaysian team have found themselves deserving of a dark horse tag at the Uber Cup in Aarhus, Denmark on May 16-24.
Prior to the Asian meet, many had written off the Malaysian women’s team, predicting they would not reach the semi-finals. Only those who enter the last four will meit a place in the Uber Cup finals.
As it turned out, the young Malaysian fighters not only silenced the naysayers but came close to upstaging top seeds and eventual champions, Japan in their opening group tie.
Women’s singles Soniia and S. Kisona, who performed admirably against Japan, believe Malaysia can go far in the Uber Cup if they continue to improve their game in the coming months.
“I think it’s important for us to stay injury free. We also need to stay grounded and look at ways to get better because the Uber Cup is a different tournament all together. We have yet to face teams from Europe,” said Soniia, who notched her second win in as many months over Japan’s World No 3, Akane Yamaguchi in Manila.
Kisona, who defied predictions to win the Sea Games women’s singles gold in December, said: “We have always believed in ourselves. We played well because we train hard. Hopefully we get to shine in Denmark.”
Though big guns China and India did not compete in the Asian championships due to the coronavirus outbreak, Malaysia were the only team to take two points from Japan, the Uber Cup reigning champions. This shows that Malaysia are a team of substance.
In the quarter-finals, Malaysia defeated a formidable Taiwan 3-1 before losing 3-0 to Japan in the last four. Japan routed South Korea 3-0 in the final.
Since returning on Monday from the Asian team event, Soniia and her teammates are back to focusing on their individual game.
Soniia, who is Malaysia’s sole prospect for the Tokyo Olympics in July, will compete in the German Open on March 3-8.