'Go create history in Bangkok!'
Kuala Lumpur: Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria is confident the national men's squad is capable of creating history by emerging as Thomas Cup champions in Bangkok, Thailand this month.
Mohamad Norza stressed that even though the governing body had taken the bold step of featuring a line-up of young and experienced players, he was confident the squad would be able to put their best performance in the team championship scheduled at Impact Arena, Bangkok from May 20 to 27.
"The most important thing for us is the team spirit to bring back the Thomas Cup.
"I believe we could go far, so we are putting a semi-final slot target for the men's team and the quarter-finals for the Uber Cup squad," he said at the closing of a motivational camp for the national badminton squads at Academy Badminton Malaysia, Bukit Kiara, here, Tuesday.
Sharing the same view is Thomas Cup squad captain Datuk Lee Chong Wei who is confident the national squad will be able to put a sterling performance despite fielding several young players in the tournament for the first time.
"We will try our best...our target is still the semi-finals as stated by the BAM president...but anything can happen so we are prepared to go the extra mile mentally and physically.
"The squad is quite different this time except for me and doubles Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and I think the decision to send young players is a good move," said Chong Wei who would be playing his last Thomas Cup, after making his debut in the series in 2006 in Japan.
The seventh ranked player in the world will lead the country's challenge with Lee Zii Jia, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and 2017 World Junior runner-up champion, Leong Jun Hao in the singles.
V Shem-Wee Kiong, the Rio Olympics silver medallists, will head the challenge in the doubles with Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik as well as Teo Ee Yi-Muhd Arif Abdul Latif.
Malaysia have been drawn in group D with defending champions Denmark, Russia and Algeria with the top two teams qualifying for the quarter-finals.
The last time Malaysia won the Thomas Cup was in 1992 when the national squad beat Indonesia 3-2 in the final in Stadium Negara.
Meanwhile, Chong Wei said he supported the new initiatives proposed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to improve the quality of the sport this weekend.
"The new five 11-point sets system is good for me especially when facing young players," he said.
Among the initiatives proposed by BWF is to reduce on-court coaching, changing the scoring system from three 21-point sets to five 11-point sets and fixed height for serves. – Bernama