Wednesday March 20, 2013
Rashid says depleted squad can rise to the occasion
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: National singles head coach Rashid Sidek believes that Malaysia will be fully prepared to take on the US$1mil Axiata Cup challenge, which starts tomorrow in Surabaya, Indonesia.
The tournament, which is the richest team championship in the world, is being viewed as the ideal platform for several under-performing players to step up their game.
It is also a good opportunity for the Malaysian squad to get some practice in team events, ahead of the Sudirman Cup which will be held from May 19-26 in Kuala Lumpur.
And Rashid believes that the team chosen for the Axiata Cup – Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Lim Yin Loo and Tee Jing Yi – have exactly what it takes to deliver the goods.
“Honestly, if we had (Lee) Chong Wei in the squad, there is a very good chance of having at least a guaranteed point,” said Rashid.
“But I have confidence in the current squad as they can take on any opposition if they play to form.
“Without Chong Wei, it will be up to Daren or Wei Feng to give us an early boost in singles, but I’m also confident that we can earn points through the men’s doubles ties as well. Our mixed pair and Jing Yi also have the experience to weather the storm.
“But most importantly, there should be no pressure on our players in the Axiata Cup, even though they did not do well in the recent All-England and Swiss Open.
“It does not mean they can’t bounce back and make things right and it’s important to forget the All-England and Swiss meet now and focus on the Axiata Cup.
“Having said that, it will still be tough as some of them may be tired after their European trip but I believe that they are ready for the challenge in Indonesia,” added Rashid.
Malaysia will play four matches in Indonesia, first against the Philippines, followed by Thailand, Indonesia and the Europe All Stars.
They will play the second round at home from March 29-31 in KL, and will face Singapore, Vietnam and Asia All Stars.
Only the top four teams from the preliminary round robin matches qualify for the semi-finals which will be held on April 13 in KL. The finals will be held the next day.