Malaysia's badminton team faced a significant setback in the Asian Games, and legendary former player Lee Chong Wei believes that the failure should be attributed to the team as a whole rather than singling out any individual. He emphasizes that the blame game and pointing fingers will not resolve the underlying issues. According to the three-time Olympic silver medalist, the primary reason for Malaysia's disappointing performance in the initial round of the team event in Hangzhou was a glaring absence of team spirit.
In a Thursday match against South Korea, Malaysia suffered a 1-3 defeat, with only Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik managing to secure a point. Lee Zii Jia, Ng Tze Yong, and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi all succumbed to defeats with performances that lacked inspiration, particularly when facing lower-ranked opponents. Despite being the team captain, independent shuttler Ong Yew Sin's leadership on the court was hardly noticeable.
Lee Chong Wei believes it is imperative to delve into the reasons behind Malaysia's lackluster team performance compared to formidable opponents like China, South Korea, and Indonesia. He points out that these teams exhibit a strong bond and exceptional fighting spirit, which are notably absent from the Malaysian squad.
"In a team event," Chong Wei asserts, "victory is a collective achievement. It is not accurate to attribute success or failure to singles players or doubles players. When we win, we win together, and when we lose, the entire team shares the responsibility."
When asked whether the combination of independent and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) players for team events was a misstep, Chong Wei disagreed, drawing parallels with football and hockey where players from different clubs come together for national duty. He emphasized that the source of the players is not the issue; rather, what matters is the level of commitment they bring to the team.
Lee Chong Wei reminisces about the remarkable team spirit that propelled Malaysia to the brink of victory in the 2014 Thomas Cup Finals, where they narrowly lost to Japan 3-2 in the final. He served as the team captain during that memorable campaign and recalls the united goal they shared: to win for their country. However, he notes that over the past few years, this team spirit has declined, and while he is uncertain about the cause, he firmly believes it is a matter that requires attention. Shifting from individual events to team events can be challenging for players who predominantly focus on singles or doubles throughout the year.
Chong Wei underscores the importance of having the right team captain to foster unity and suggests incorporating team-building activities ahead of major events. He expresses confidence in Rexy Mainaky, the new national coaching director, believing that Mainaky's emphasis on teamwork will eventually enable the Malaysian team to exhibit the same fighting spirit demonstrated by teams from China, South Korea, and Indonesia in future competitions.
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