Badminton: Malaysia must beat Japan in the first group and avoid playing with holders in the last eight

The goal is to become the group champions.

And coxswain Aaron Chia is all pumped up to beat Japan today and come out as the winner of Group D.

Malaysia has not beaten Japan in the Thomas Cup in the last 12 years. They have lost to them in the last three editions, and their last victory was away in Jakarta in 2008 in the quarterfinals.

Yesterday Malaysia beat the United States 5-0, while Japan beat England also with an identical result which indicates that they will not keep the blows when they face today in the last game of the group.

“First place in the group will help avoid other holders, and that is the goal now.

“We don’t plan to relax, we fight in every match until the end here.” said Aaron.

Aaron and Soh Wooi Yik contemplate revenge as they prepare to face world champions Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi. They beat them at last year’s Sudirman Cup, but have since lost in all three matches.

“It’s always been close between us, this time we want to overcome,” Aaron said.

Japan played a scratch pair between Hoki and mixed doubles expert Yutu Watanabe yesterday against England, but will likely keep the best pair against the Malaysians.

Lee Zii Jia also wants to avenge his defeat by Kent Momota after losing his first point at last year’s edition in Aarhus.

“Winning the first point is important, so I will do my best to avoid another defeat by him in the Thomas Cup,” he said.

Malaysia has a fighting chance in the next three events, whoever it decides on the field.

Veteran Liew Daren may be inserted even though he doesn’t have a good record against Kante Tsuneyama or Kente Nishimoto, but the experience of the former could turn the tide for Malaysia.

Director of national coaching pairs Rexy Mainaky may have a headache in naming other pairs because both Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani have their advantages.

One couple has experience while the other has improved significantly.

“I will have to think carefully about whether to bring these couples out or even try a scratch partnership.

“Whoever I play with has to do their best to help us become group winners,” Rexy said.

Japan has other options to deceive its opponents. They can play Akira Koga-Taichi Saito or form a scratch partner Koga-Watanabe.

In the last edition, Koga-Watanabe performed strongly and defeated Sze Fei-Izzuddin.

Ng Tze Yong will be as strong as the third single whether Kenta Nishimoto or Kodai Naraoka are playing.

Director of national singles coach Wong Choong Hann said: “We will evaluate the performance of the players in the last two matches and name the best to be at the top of the group.

“If we win, we will avoid the other group champions and again Japan in the quarterfinals.”

■ THOMAS CUP FINALS

group B: Denmark bt France 5-0; China v. Algeria 5-0.

group D: Malaysia bt United States (Liew Daren bt Enrico Asuncion 21-13, 21-16; Ng Tze Yong bt Don Henley 21-11, 21-9; Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin bt William Hu 21-16, 21-17; Goh Sze Wei -Chia Weijie bt Adrian King-Sun-Hendry Tang 21-12, 21-8; Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi bt Asuncion-William 21-16, 21-8); Japan v. England 5-0.

■ UBER CUP FINALS

group A: Japan bt France 5-0; Indonesia bt Germany 5-0

group D: India bt United States 4-1, South Korea bt Canada 4-1.

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