TUC 2010 Day 3 – Japan stun Malaysia to emerge group champion

The Malaysian crowds were ferocious: shouting, cheering and jeering. The Japanese were greatly outnumbered on the final day of the group ties but they did not allow this to affect […]


The Malaysian crowds were ferocious: shouting, cheering and jeering. The Japanese were greatly outnumbered on the final day of the group ties but they did not allow this to affect their game. Instead, they turned on the power to defy the odds by beating Malaysia to emerge as winners in Group B in the Thomas Cup Finals.

By Selina Ng, Badzine correspondent, live from Putra Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. Live photos : Badmintonphoto

Malaysia started out really well with a 2-0 lead in this final group tie that was to determine the winners of the group, meaning a better path in the quarterfinals.

It was first Malaysian hero Datuk Lee Chong Wei who got the engine going perfectly by disposing of Kenichi Tago whom he met previously in the Yonex All England final this year. With the crowd chanting his name, Chong Wei lived up to expectations by beating Tago 21-12 21-13. However, he was not truly satisfied with his game.

“This is the first time that I played on court for this tournament as we only had trainings on court previously. I have to say that this is not my best game but I will play better in the next few games. There is no difference between the present Tago and the Tago in All England. The only difference is that I’ve made my own preparations such as studying through videos of Tago playing, to prepare for today’s match,” said Chong Wei.

TUC-Day3-WongWith Malaysia leading 1-0, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong then rode on the advantage to strike another blow to the Japanese camp by getting the better of Noriyasu Hirata-Hirokatsu Hashimoto with the score of 21-13 21-17.

“I am very satisfied with my performance today. This shows that we had enough preparation before the Thomas Cup. We played better in the first set because we played a simple game, but in the second game we tried to hit more daring shots, therefore we made more mistakes,” said Kien Keat.

“It was a good game and a good start for us in the Thomas Cup. We are used to the vocal crowd support and it didn’t really affect us. And of course it would have been better if we got to play against Nigeria on the first day to get the feeling on court,” added Boon Heong.

Back to earth…

After the euphoria of leading 2-0, the triple blows started coming in for the Malaysian camp as well as the home fans. Wong Choong Hann found Sho Sasaki too hot to handle, losing the match 17-21 18-21 in 44 minutes.

TUC-Day3-MDJap“I was rather uncertain in the match. At the start, I wasn’t very comfortable with the conditions in the hall and that made me play a little too cautiously. Sasaki played very comfortably and therefore I couldn’t dictate the rhythm and pace of the game. Also, I made many unforced errors. However, I will not feel down or rejected because this is only my first match. Anything can happen in this tournament, so I’m looking forward to the next game and the next opponent,” said Choong Hann.

The local crowds were starting to get a little impatient at this stage and the next Malaysian players on court were to receive the full blow of their impatience. Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif took on Kenichi Hayakawa-Kenta Kazuno in the second mens’ doubles match that was supposed to give the winning point to Malaysia in the tie. However, it was not to be. Fairuzizuan’s game was evidently controlled by emotions and that affected his game. The Japanese pairing capitalized on this to get the better of the Malaysian pair with a score of 21-15 21-12. The lost ignited the fury of the Malaysian fans who jeered at their own players while they were walking out of the hall. This resulted in a heated exchange of words between fans and Fairuzizuan who was already emotionally distraught.

“We did not follow the right strategy in the match. I wanted to win very badly, so I became a little emotional while playing. But the Japanese pair played better today. Besides, I want to apologize to everyone for my behavior just now. We always have to perform well when playing in home ground because the local fans demand for it. Booing is still acceptable because it is a fact that we lost. But when a fan showed me some inappropriate sign language just now, I couldn’t control my emotions. I am sorry for that and I promise that it will never happen again,” explained Fairuzizuan.

TUC-Day3-Sato“Fairuzizuan was a little tensed today because he was controlled by emotions. He wanted to prove himself to everyone as we were already leading 2-1. When a player is controlled by emotions, their game would not work. I will have to do my homework tonight to decide which pair to call upon in the quarterfinals,” said Rexy Manaiky, Malaysia’s doubles coach.

As the captain of the Malaysian men’s team, Chong Wei called upon all supporters to be considerate and support the team no matter win or lose. “In sports there are wins and losses, nobody would want to lose. But we as players have pressure as well. Even if we lose at the end of the day, we had tried our very best to perform and we hope that the fans can give us their cooperation too,” said Chong Wei.

The tie was tied at 2-2. It was either do or die for both the third singles players. Mohd Hafiz Hashim had the enormous burden to tame Shoji Sato. He fared badly in the first game before putting up a better fight in the second game managing to force a rubber set, much to the delight of the home crowd. However, Sato broke the hearts of the Malaysians by clinching the winning point to put Japan as group winners who will have an easier path against Germany tomorrow.

“It is very disappointing because I couldn’t win a point for Malaysia. In the first game I was very pressured but later I started to settle down and became more comfortable. Today is my first match for Malaysia and hopefully this lost will make us more prepared for the next stage,” explained Hafiz.

With Japan emerging as group champions, they will next face Germany in the quarterfinals hoping there to get a shot at their first ever medal in the event. Malaysia will take on Denmark who defeated Germany 4-1 today. China will have a rematch with South Korea in another quarterfinal while Indonesia will face India.

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