KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 – The absence of Datuk Lee Chong Wei in the 2014 Axiata Cup has not cowed the national badminton squad from looking for success at the tournament starting this Thursday at Britama Arena, Jakarta until Dec 5. National men’s singles player, Chong Wei Feng is aware of the challenges the national squad will be facing but is optimistic of meeting the semi-final target.
Malaysia beat Thailand 3-1 to take the title last year. “It is undeniable it will be a uphill task to defend the cup without Chong Wei. But I am confident if we make it to the semi-final, I think the players would be ready for the final challenge. “We also have the experience of playing in team championship,” he told reporters after undergoing training at Bukit Kiara here today.
Apart from Malaysia, teams from Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines as well as from Asia and Europe will play in a round robin format to book a semi-final berth. The semi-finals will be held at the Cheras Badminton Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 6 and 7.
Besides Wei Feng, the squad comprises Liew Daren (men’s singles), Hoon Thien How (men’s doubles), Tan Boon Heong (men’s doubles), Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles), Tee Jing Yi (women’s singles), Ho Yen Mei (women’s singles), Chan Peng Soon (mixed doubles), Tan Aik Quan (mixed doubles), Lai Pei Jing (mixed doubles) and Ng Hui Lin (mixed doubles).
Indonesia, Thailand and Asia All Stars are among the top contenders for the title. Thailand will be featuring world number six women’s singles Ratchanok Intanon while the Asian All Stars are fielding world eighth women’s singles, Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan and world 17th men’s singles, P. Kashyap of India. The Axiata Cup champion will receive US$400,000 (RM1.3 million and the second place winner US$200,000 (RM668,000).