SHAH ALAM: The Malaysian second stringers smashed minnows Kazakhstan 5-0 to advance into the Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) 2022 semi-finals, as well as qualify for the Thomas Cup.
Despite resting top singles shuttlers, Lee Zii Jia, Ng Tze Yong and Leong Jun Hao as well as top doubles pair, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, who helped Malaysia hammer Singapore 5-0 yesterday, the youngsters managed to live up to the occasion by trouncing Kazakhstan, which is better known for other sports like boxing and weightlifting.
The 22-year-old Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin, 22, got the ball rolling at the Setia City Convention Centre here, defeating 29-year-old Artur Niyazov 21-11, 21-12.
Another youngster, Lim Chong King doubled the score by beating Khaitmurat Kulmatov 21-21, 21-11, while the youngest member in the team, Jacky Kok Jing Hong, 20, confirmed the winning point for Malaysia, thrashing Makhsut Tajibullayev 21-8, 21-4.
The remaining last two doubles matches were like a stroll in the park for Malaysia, as Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun won against Jangir Ibrayey-Ilya Lysenko 21-5, 21-5 in just 17 minutes, while Goh Sze Fei- Nur Izzuddin Mohd Rumsani defeated Andrey Shalagin-Tajibullayey 21-8, 21-4 in 15 minutes to conclude with the perfect 5-0 win.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Aidil Sholeh, who played his first team event match, hopes to improve further in terms of strategy and mental strength in the coming matches.
“I was not too comfortable in the early stage maybe because of nervousness, but after 11 points I found the momentum to play better,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jacky Kok, who was grateful to be given the opportunity to contribute a point for the team, said he was taking the chance to learn how to handle pressure on court and benefit from the experience of the seniors.
“I’m motivated to always give my best and work harder to fulfil my mission in any tournaments,” he said, adding that he hopes to make his Thomas Cup debut this year.
In another Group B fixture, Singapore overcame Japan 3-2.
Malaysia and Japan will face off tomorrow, while Singapore will take on Kazakhstan to decide the group winners and another spot for the semi-finals.
The national women’s team had also cruised into the semi-finals after winning 3-2 against defending champions Japan on Tuesday and India yesterday.
The draw for the last four stage is expected to be held tomorrow night.
The top four teams (men’s and women’s) in BATC will automatically qualify for the 2022 Thomas and Uber Cup finals to be held in Bangkok, Thailand in May.