KUALA LUMPUR: After 18 years of waiting for a Thomas Cup glory, and ended up with more waiting after a heart-breaking defeat in the ongoing championship here, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) should now take a bold step and thrust younger players to the forefront in place of an ageing line-up.Obviously Malaysia cannot depend forever on Datuk Lee Chong Wei, aged 28, Wong Choong Hann, 33, and Muhd Hafiz Hashim, 28.
With the exception of Choong Hann, who has said that this would be his last Thomas Cup, can Malaysia continue to depend on Chong Wei and Muhd Hafiz, who would be 30 in the 2012 Thomas Cup?
The very decision to include Choong Hann — who made his sixth appearance in the tournament — shows the dire situation that the country severely lack singles players of high calibre.
Singles chief coach Rashid Sidek said he was aware that age was catching up on national shuttlers, especially singles players.
“We have no choice but to develop the younger players, and to develop them fast, to fill the void in the main line-up,” he said.
Choong Hann himself said he wanted to see new players in the line-up because Malaysia could not continue to rely on ‘old horses’.
Malaysia do have several players who have shown potential and ability to compete in high-level tournament.
Loh Wei Sheng, Zulfadli Zulkifli, Mohd Syawal Ismail, Misbun Ramdhan Misbun, Liew Darren, Chong Wei Feng and Mohd Arif Latiff are among some of them who can be polished to take over from the seniors.
In the doubles, the pair of Ow Yao Han-Yew Hong Kheng emerges to be among the most promising following their victory in the World Junior Badminton in Guadalajara, Mexico last month.
Ironically, almost all of these players are aged 18 — having been born in the year Malaysia tasted the Thomas Cup glory — and on their way to reaching their primes if only they had the opportunity to compete in high-level tournaments. — Bernama