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http://<b>BADMINTON/Thomas-Uber Cup ...the inevitable

S.Selvam in Jakarta

May 09:

WHICHEVER way the Malaysians try to run and hide, or more importantly, which team they want to avoid playing in the quarter-finals, the risks of crashing out of the Thomas Cup is just as great.The only difference, it would seem, is at which stage of the competition Malaysia are ‘thinking’ of bowing out, and not, as one would expect, trying to win.

‘Thinking’ of bowing out because that is exactly what the Malaysians seem to be indicating as they prepare to take on Thailand in a top of the table Group C clash at the Istora Senayan Stadium today.

Early indications are that Malaysia will play to lose against Thailand, by fielding a weaker squad.

Malaysia’s No 1 singles and doubles combination of Wong Choong Hann and Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah respectively, are not expected to start.

Likewise, World No 12, Roslin Hashim, the second highest ranked Malaysian player, is also expected to be rested.

Which leaves Lee Chong Wei, Mohamed Hafiz Hashim and Lee Tsuen Seng, in that order, to carry Malaysia’s singles challenge.

In the doubles, only Koo Kien Keat is expected to be a sure bet, with national doubles coach Yap Kim Hock experimenting by breaking up the Tan Fook-Wan Wah partnership.

And it is all because the expected quarter-final clash against top seeds China or reigning champions Indonesia.

Malaysia, Thailand and South Africa are in Group C with China, Indonesia and United States in Group A.

According to the draw, the Group C winners, will take on the Group A runners-up, which could mean either China or Indonesia.

But finish as group runners-up and Malaysia will play South Korea, the expected Group B champions, for a place in the last four.

But the semi-finals are where the Malaysians may be faced with another problem.

Winning the quarter-final tie as group winners will give Malaysia a semi-final tie against Denmark while winning the quarter-final as group runners-up, which is what Malaysia seem to be aiming for, will give them a semi-final against China.

As such, all that Malaysia seem to indicate, by contemplating sending in a weaker squad against Thailand, is that a defeat is inevitable, but they rather go out in the semi-finals than the quarter-finals.

Which is not what a team aiming to be the best in the world should be contemplating.

The end result, as far as the BA of Malaysia and team management are concerned, may justify the decision to ‘lose’ against Thailand, but in terms of morale and sportsmanship, not to mention reputation, it will defeat all purposes.

Misbun and Kim Hock must think of that when they finalise the line-up today.