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03-02-2006, 08:04 PM #1
Chong Wei and Co poised to dominate
MALAYSIAíS best ever badminton haul in the Commonwealth Games should be achieved in Melbourne as, on paper, the players are capable of securing five of the six gold medals at stake.
Chief coach Yap Kim Hock has been more optimistic in recent times as he revised the original Games target from three to four gold medals on Monday and this is something he should have done much earlier looking at the strength of the squad.
Lee Chong Wei looks too strong in the menís singles and an all-Malaysian final is on the cards where the World No 2 is expected to meet Wong Choong Hann.
Chong Wei has a good track record against Choong Hann, the 1998 champion, and looks good to secure his first Commonwealth Games singles gold.
The only other player who could have troubled Chong Wei is compatriot Hafiz Hashim but the defending champion has been left out of the squad.
Ronald Susilo is seen as a threat but the Singaporeanís serious knee injury makes Chong Weiís task easier.
Despite struggling with the new 21-point scoring system (played on a point per rally best-of-three games format), Malaysiaís domination in the menís doubles is also likely to continue in Melbourne.
Chan Chong Ming, who won the gold in Manchester with Chew Choon Eng, will be attempting to repeat the feat with 20-year-old debutant Koo Kien Keat.
Scratch pair Choong Tan Fook and Choong Hann will be challenging Chong Ming-Kien Keat.
In the womenís doubles, Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui are the favourites and although Singapore pair Jiang Yanmei-Li Yujia are dangerous, an upset doesnít look possible.
Pei Tty-Eei Hui won a bronze in Manchester and she will be looking to emulate Lim Pek Siah-Ang Li Peng who became the first Malaysian womenís doubles pair to win the gold four years ago.
With a balanced squad, Malaysia are contenders for a fourth gold in the mixed team event where it will be a head-on battle with favourites England.
Malaysia look good in all departments except for the mixed doubles where World No 1 Nathan Robertson-Gail Emms give England the advantage.
However, this should not stop Malaysia from winning their first mixed team gold as they are ahead of England in the menís singles and doubles as well as the womenís singles and doubles.
Wong Mew Choo remains the last player who can complete a brilliant outing for Malaysia if she can overcome her tendency to crack under pressure and land the womenís singles gold.
Sylvia Ng is the only Malaysian to win the womenís singles gold ó in 1978 ó and Mew Choo has the ability to repeat the feat.
Singaporeís Li Li and Xing Aiying are the players to be wary of but having beaten them before, Mew Choo will have her destiny in her own hands.
The mixed doubles is the only event Malaysia are not expected to spring a surprise in as Robertson-Gail should clinch the gold.
Malaysiaís best bet, Kien Keat and Pei Tty, are good for a medal but the duo will not take the risk of over-exerting themselves in the mixed doubles as they have a better chance of striking gold in the menís and womenís doubles with their partners.
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