28th Oct '05
THE Manila Sea Games badminton squad was hit with injuries to the in-form Hafiz Hashim and Wong Pei Tty but national chief coach Yap Kim Hock is not unduly worried.
In fact, Kim Hock is confident his charges will achieve the two-gold target even without Hafiz who is down with a knee injury.

Hafiz, who won the Dutch Open two weeks ago, his third international title this year, and was runner-up to Lee Chong Wei in the Denmark Open on Sunday, suffered a recurrence of the knee injury during these tournaments.

He first suffered the injury en route to the Thailand Open title in March and, as a result, had to skip the Japan Open a month later. But Hafiz made a quick recovery.

Doubles player Pei Tty, and partner Chin Eei Hui, were runners-up in the Dutch Open in which she suffered a hamstring strain but her condition does not look serious.

Kim Hock said that Hafiz's injury will affect Malaysia's chances in the team event, while Pei Tty and Eei Hui are gold medal prospects in the women's doubles.

"This is the second time Hafiz has suffered the injury. We will only know how serious it is on Monday. We will be weakened in the team event if he is unable to play," said Kim Hock.

"Pei Tty (and partner Eei Hui) are also gold medal prospects, so we hope Hafiz and Pei Tty will recover quickly.

"They will not compete in the Hong Kong Open next week and instead will focus on their preparation for the Sea Games.

"Despite this setback, I am still optimistic we can achieve the two-gold target. If possible, we want to win more than that as this is our best squad for the Sea Games in years.

"We have prepared well for the men's and women's events. Indonesia are also coming with a strong squad but we can challenge them."

Hafiz underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan at the National Sports Institute (NSI) yesterday. Pei Tty will undergo a similar scan today.

Kim Hock is not too worried about Hafiz's injury as Malaysia can still rely on Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann and Kuan Beng Hong in Manila.

Furthermore, Indonesia have been installed as clear favourites in the men's team event as they will be spearheaded by Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat.

However, if Pei Tty is absent, it will be a huge blow as she and Eei Hui are the favourites for the women's doubles gold, and their services are crucial in the team event where Malaysia also have a realistic chance winning another gold.

Women's doubles coach Cheah Soon Kit confirmed that Pei Tty's injury does not look serious as it could just a minor strain.

"Pei Tty will definitely play in the Sea Games. In fact, she will go through light training tomorrow (today)," said Soon Kit.

"She needs to be cautious and her injury should heal completely in the next few days. Pei Tty and Eei Hui had a good outing in Europe and they can do well in the Sea Games."

In the Dutch Open, Pei Tty-Eei Hui lost to the experienced Mia Audina-Lotte Jonathans Bruil of the Netherlands, and in the Denmark Open, lost in the quarter-finals to Japanese pair Aki Akao-Tomomi Matsuda.