Malaysia got off to a winning start in the Thomas Cup Qualifiers in Macau when they defeated Hong Kong this morning. But it was far from convincing as they struggled to win 3-2, although by the time Liew Darren took to the courts Malaysia had an unassailable 3-1 lead.
The win gives them a place in the last eight and the only question left now is if the coaches will play Mohd Hafiz Hashim in the crucial tie against South Korea which will determine the top spot in Group C and ultimately an easier quarterfinal tie.
Hafiz was at sea against Hu Yun, a player whom he had lost to on two previous occasions, the last being in 2008. And it was all down to unforced errors and poor court judgement as Hafiz lost 20-22,18-21 in 42 minutes.
“Seriously I am upset with myself as it was a match that I should have won. I am not offering any excuses and the fact was that he was a better player today,” said Hafiz.
“I was playing to his tempo and could have done with some guidance as my coach Hendrawan’s presence would have helped me change my game plan.
“It is not an excuse but I guess having Hendrawan at the back of the court would have given me added confidence.
“I hope to bounce back from this setback and hope that the officials still have confidence in me to play against Korea tomorrow as that is a crucial tie.”
Skipper Lee Chong Wei also did not have a good day on court as he somewhat struggled to subdue Wong Wing Ki 21-18,22-20 in 42 minutes.
“It is normal to have a slow start and it was kind of expected. More importantly was that we are off to a winning start and lets look forward to Korea tomorrow.
“Hafiz may have lost but lets not get overly concerned with that as we have registered a win and look towards upsetting the more fancied Koreans.”
Top doubles pair Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong had it easy as they swept aside the challenge of Lo Lok Kei/Leung Chun Yiu 21-9,21-14 in just 21 minutes.
And second doubles pair Lim Kim Wah/Goh V Shem gave Malaysia the winning point, easily disposing off the challenge posed by Wong Wai Hong/Lee Chun Hei 21-14,21-16 in 27 minutes.
It should have been an easy 4-1 win for Malaysia but Liew Darren playing as third singles lost to Chan Yan Kit 21-17, 16-21, 19-21.
Quotes from Rashid Sidek
“Although Hafiz lost, we may still field him against Korea as he is more steady then Darren and Ariff. As I said it was never going to be easy and we can expect a tougher time against Korea tomorrow. The doubles pair will have to contribute and at the same time the burden cannot be on Chong Wei alone.”