The expectations were there, but doubles pair Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong failed to raise their game and exited at the quarterfinals stage of the World Championships at the Wembley Arena in London this morning.
They went down 17-21, 13-21 to Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Yoo Yeon Seong, thus losing to the Koreans for the fifth successive time in their playing careers.
Nothing went right for the Malaysians as their opponents showed that they are a class above, with sound defensive play and a devastating attack that had the Malaysians backpedalling for most of the match.
Finalists at the World Championships in Paris last year, there was much hope on the duo, but they failed to deliver when it mattered.
“We lack quality sparring and just could not keep up with the pace set by the opponents,” said a dejected Koo.
“It was always being one step too slow as they knew exactly were to send the shuttle and exploited our weak points.”
Doubles coach Rexy Mainaky concurred with the thoughts of his charges as he took time to explain to the Malaysian media as to what went wrong.
“The fact of the matter is we were just not good enough today to match the Koreans, both in terms of endurance and speed. This is something we have been working on but it is not good enough.”
The scores in the first set were close until midway into the set when the Koreans opted to up the tempo with Koo making many unforced errors to hand their opponents the advantage.
The Koreans led 16-13 at one stage but Koo/Tan kept within distance, reducing the scoreline to 16-15.
But the Koreans stepped up a gear to reel off the next four points to be within a point of taking the first set.
Though the Malaysians awoke from their slumber, to take the next two points, it was not enough to deny the Koreans of taking the first set 21-17 in just 18 minutes.
In the second the Koreans raced to a 6-1 lead before Koo/Tan realized what hit them. And they were left chasing the match as at the break it was 11-6 in favour of the Koreans.
Ko/Yoo then stretched their lead to 18-12 and hopes of the Malaysian duo were fast evaporating. And the Malaysian dream ended  in just 38 minutes on a cold Friday noon.