April 28

THE hot topic in cool Sendai is the size of Malaysia’s support crew. More than a dozen personnel are at hand to help the 10-man Thomas Cup squad.

Besides the six coaches – Yap Kim Hock, Misbun Sidek, Li Mao, Rexy Mainaky, Wong Tat Meng and Pang Cheh Chang – Malaysia have also brought along two singles players and two doubles pairs as sparring partners.

Also with the team are three physical trainers, nutritionist, sports analysts, psychologist and masseurs.

And former national coach Park Joo-bong, who is now with the Japanese side, said yesterday the size of the Malaysian contingent reflected their seriousness to win the Cup.

“I was surprised to see such a huge Malaysian squad. I think, this is the first time that a team have brought along a team of this size to a Finals. Denmark and England had a similar set-up but certainly not this big,” said Joo-bong.

“All the teams are talking about this and Malaysia have made their intentions clear here to regain the Cup (they last won in 1992).”

Malaysian chief coach Yap Kim Hock said that having a support crew was nothing new to teams.

“We are 10 years behind compared to China. They have had similar set-ups a long time ago. But unlike us, they don't bring the whole team to Sendai,” said Kim Hock.

On Japan's chances, Joo-bong said: “The men are in the same group as Denmark and South Africa. They may play South Korea for a place in the last eight but chances are slim to win.

“We have a better chance in the Uber Cup and will be out to reach the final. We may play South Korea in the semi-finals. We lost to them during a friendly match here prior to the Finals.”