Kuala Lumpur Post

Sports

Thomas Cup : Malaysia to face Japan in quarter-finals

CHENGDU — Malaysia will face Group B champions Japan in the quarter-finals of the Thomas Cup 2024 here on May 2.

The last time Malaysia, which made the cut to the quarter-finals as Group D runners-up, played against the 2014 champions was during the last edition in Bangkok.

Malaysia edged Japan 3-2 during the last Group D action two years ago.

Should the national team overcome Japan, they will have a chance of coming up against either hosts and Group A champions, China, or reigning champions and Group C runners-up, India, in the semi-finals.

Commenting on the draw, Akademi Badminton Malaysia coaching director Rexy Mainaky Rexy said that the second and third singles stood a chance of competing against the Japanese despite the current understrength of the singles camp.

“For the doubles, our chances are 50-50. The things we need to strengthen are focus, commitment, and psychology – that’s all we need to do (before the quarter-finals),” he told Malaysian media here.

Professional men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia would be the safest bet for Malaysia to earn a point as he is the only Malaysian player in the top 10 world ranking. Others are ranked outside the top 30 such as Leong Jun Hao (37), Cheam June Wei (63) and Justin Hoh (233).

On paper, Japan have the upper hand in the men’s singles camp as they have Kodai Naraoka (6) followed by Kenta Nishimoto (12), Koki Watanabe (21) and former two-time world champion, Kento Momota.

Malaysia kicked off their Group D campaign in style by thrashing Hong Kong last Saturday and Algeria last Sunday with similar 5-0 wins before going down 2-3 to Denmark, which eventually topped the Group D on Tuesday.

Group C and 14-time champions Indonesia will be up against Group A runners-up, South Korea on Friday.

Indonesia will take on Denmark in a possible semi-finals tie should the 2016 champions emerge victorious against Group B runners-up, Taiwan.

The Thomas Cup 2024 semi-finals will be held this Saturday and the final, this Sunday.