Sudirman Cup: Zii Jia proud of Malaysia’s unexpected run to semi-finals

by BERNAMA / pic credit: Lee Zii Jia FB

KUALA LUMPUR – National men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia (picture) has admitted that he never expected the national team to reach the semi-finals of the 2021 Sudirman Cup in Vantaa, Finland.

As captain of the national team to the mixed team tournament, Zii Jia described their achievement as something “to be proud of” as it exceeded the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) quarter-final target.

“I am very happy, especially with our win over Indonesia in the last eight. I feel that none of us are losers here, we are all winners,” he said in an audio clip shared with the media yesterday.

The 23-year-old, who hails from Kedah, said he was also impressed with the spirited performance of women’s singles ace S. Kisona and young women’s doubles pair of Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah in stretching their Indonesian rivals to rubber games during the quarter-finals.

Although Kisona lost to world number 21 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung 20-22, 21-18, 19-21 and Pearly Thinaah went down 20-22, 21-17, 18-17 to Tokyo Olympic gold medallists Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu, Zii Jia described the performances of the three national shuttlers as “extraordinary”.

Although Malaysia defeated Indonesia 3-2, they fell short in the semi-finals, going down 3-1 to Japan, who advanced to the final against defending champions China today.

Commenting on his 22-20, 21-19 win over Japan’s Kento Momota in the semi-finals yesterday, Zii Jia said he was excited at avenging his 18-21, 10-21 loss to the world number one during their Group D tie on Thursday (Sept 30).

Zii Jia said the more offensive strategy drawn up by his coach Hendrawan clearly bore fruit as it resulted in him beating Momota for the second time this year, having also downed the Japanese 21-16, 21-19 in the quarter-final en route to winning his maiden All England title in Birmingham in March.

World number eight Zii Jia also hoped that his teammates would not be downhearted by their failure to beat Japan yesterday and, instead, urged them to use the experience gained in Finland to carve out more victories in the future.

Meanwhile, national men’s doubles shuttler Aaron Chia said he was pleased with his teammates for emulating the national team’s best-ever achievement when they reached the last four in the 2009 edition in Guangzhou, China.

Aaron, who won the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal with Soh Wooi Yik, also hoped that the team would be retained as they seek to achieve more success in future tournaments.

Malaysia began their 2021 Sudirman Cup campaign with a slim 3-2 win over England on Sept 27 before following that up with a 5-0 trouncing of Egypt a day later to confirm their quarter-final ticket.

The Malaysia squad will now shift their attention to the Thomas and Uber Cup finals in Aarhus, Denmark from Oct 9-17.