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NST Online: Sports


Badminton / Malaysia Open: Chong Wei, Hafiz have it easy

Posted: 04 May 2011 05:58 PM PDT


 Hafiz Hashim in action against Pakkawat Vilailak en route  to winning 21-18, 21-12 in the second round of the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold in Alor Star yesterday. — Picture by Syaharim Abidin

Hafiz Hashim in action against Pakkawat Vilailak en route to winning 21-18, 21-12 in the second round of the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold in Alor Star yesterday. — Picture by Syaharim Abidin

IT was business as usual for Lee Chong Wei as he eased into the third round of the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold while Hafiz Hashim also registered one of his better starts in recent times in Alor Star yesterday.

Chong Wei blew away Robin Gonansa of Singapore with a 21-7, 21-16 win in the first round and defeated Takuma Ueda of Japan 21-8, 21-12 in the second round later in the day.

He will next meet Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto, who beat Suppanyu Avihingsanon of Thailand 21-12, 21-9, in the third round today.


Hafiz defeated Dionisius Hayom Rumbaka of Indonesia 21-14, 21-17 in the first round and then overcame Thailand's Pakkawat Vilailak 21-18, 21-12 to secure a third round meeting with third seed Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam.

Liew Daren benifited from playing two local players as he edged Zulfadli Zulkifli 10-21, 21-17, 21-11 and Syawal Ismail 21-12, 21-21 to earn a place in the third round where he will take on Lee Hyun Il of South Korea.

Former back-up player Beryno Wong was the surprise package as he beat Tam Chun Hei of Hong Kong 18-21, 21-14, 21-13 and has a realistic chance of reaching the quarter-finals as he will play Brice Leverdez of France today.


Veteran Wong Choong Hann, after reaching the semi-final of the Swiss Open in March and the Australia Open final last month, was a pale shadow of himself and was beaten 21-15, 21-15 by India's Anup Sridhar in the first round on a day where 22 Malaysians crashed out in the men's singles.

Chong Wei said he is completely focused on this event as it is the first tournament to offer Olympic qualifying points.

"This is the first qualifying tournament for the Olympics and I am looking forward to it. It is a little tougher compared to the India Open last week as three China shuttlers are competing and I will give my best here," said Chong Wei.


"I must also make some adjustments to my programme so that I can peak at the right time for the World Championships in August.

"I normally do well in the first half of the season before hitting a brick wall between June and September. I normally peak again at the end of the year and this is not ideal for me as the World Championships and Olympics are between August and September."

Chong Wei is looking to fix the problem by playing in lesser tournaments until the London World Championships (Aug 8-14) and also early next year to be well prepared for next year's Olympics on July 27-Aug 12.

In the men's doubles, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong avoided a potential pitfall after beating Japan's Yoshiteru Hirobe-Kenta Kazuno with a 21-18, 21-13.

They will meet former world junior champions Ow Yao Han-Chooi Kah Ming, who upset Thailand No 1 Sudket Prapakamol-Songphon Anugritayawon 21-18, 23-21, Kien Keat vowed not to underestimate the young pair who beat them in the Kuala Lumpur Open last month.

"Many probaly would have expected us to struggle against the Japanese pair as we lost to them in the India Open and we are quite surprised to achieve an easy win. We did some analysis playing against Japanese pairs after returning from India and it helped," said Kien Keat.

"We lost to Yao Han-Kah Ming in the KL Open but we will never play in that manner again with any pair after this."

In the women's doubles, Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui came from a game down to beat Hong Kong's Poon Lok Yan-Tse Ying Suet 18-21, 23-21, 21-15 and play China's Luo Ying-Luo Yu today.

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Hockey: Malaysia brace for hard times

Posted: 04 May 2011 05:54 PM PDT

2011/05/05
Jugjet Singh
jugjet@nst.com.my


Malaysia lost 4-2 to Pakistan in a friendly match on Tuesday. Malaysia play Britain in the Azlan Shah Cup today. — Picture by L. Manimaran

Malaysia lost 4-2 to Pakistan in a friendly match on Tuesday. Malaysia play Britain in the Azlan Shah Cup today. — Picture by L. Manimaran

AS hosts since 1983, Malaysia have only played in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup on three occasions -- only to settle for second place.

And an appearance in the title match this year is possible when the tournament begins in Ipoh today as almost all teams will be parading their junior players while Malaysia still have their Asian Games squad intact.

The hosts open against Britain today, and Tai Beng Hai's boys will be in for a hard time against the Olympic hosts.


"We have not played Britain for a long time but I expect it to be a tough match as they are preparing for the Olympics," said the national coach yesterday.

"A winning start is what we are looking for as the MHF has set a target of a top-four finish in Ipoh." Britain coach Jason Lee said: "We would not normally be able to attend a high-calibre international tournament as Britain this early in an Olympic cycle, so competing in the Azlan Shah is a good opportunity.

"The heat and humidity will be a true test of the team's fighting spirit, something we will need in 2012. It will be an interesting match against Malaysia tomorrow (today)."


The last time Malaysia played Britain was in the 2007 Kuala Lumpur Champions Trophy where the hosts lost 3-2.

Overall, Malaysia have played 20 times with Britain and lost on 12 occasions, drew six and only won twice. The first win was in 1991 in Cardiff where K. Embaraj's penalty corner goal was enough, while the second win was in the 1996 Azlan Shah Cup where Malaysia won 3-2.

In previous Azlan Shah Cup editions, the national team finished second in 1985, 2007 and 2009, while last year they finished fourth.


The fact that Malaysia are ranked World No 15 while the rest are many rungs above, should not be brought into the picture as the national players prepare to play in the Olympics for the first time since Sydney 2000.

World No 1 Australia, Britain (fourth) South Korea (sixth), New Zealand (seven), Pakistan (eight) and India (ninth) are world class teams who will undoubtedly make their presence felt in Ipoh.

India and Pakistan have always been draw cards in the tournament, and with the latter winning the Asian Games gold medal over Malaysia, expectations will be high on the men in green.

However, both the Asian leaders have sent diluted sides to the tournament so it will be interesting to see how well their reserves bench has progressed.

Australia won the World Cup, Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games gold and only lost one match in the process last year.

So, Beng Hai and his charges will not be living a pipe dream if they target a berth in the final as they prepare to break into the Olympics bracket.

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