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Lean and mean’s the target – but Choong Hann’s left with a ‘bloated’ team

PETALING JAYA: National coaching director Wong Choong Hann is in a dilemma.

He was told to have a lean and mean elite team when he became the head last year but now, he will have another eight juniors waiting for their promotion as their duties are over with the cancellation of the World Junior Championships in New Zealand in January.

They are Jacky Kok and Ong Ken Yon (boys’ singles); Wan Mohd Arif Wan Junaidi-Mohd Haikal Nazri (boys’ doubles); Myisha Mohd Khairul (girls’ singles); and Low Yeen Yuan, Go Pei Kee, Valeree Siow (girls’ doubles and mixed).

He already has four other probationers in the team from last year but they have not competed in any international tournaments this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Choong Hann, who has 53 players in the team now, admits it is a tricky situation.

“Usually, we will evaluate the players before dropping them at the end of the year, and bring in the top juniors based on the world junior meet results. I can’t have a bloated team, ” said Choong Hann.

“Now, without any tournaments, it’s hard to evaluate the players’ optimum level.

“And it’s also not right to groom these juniors until this level and then, drop them without giving them a chance in the senior squad as probationers.”

Choong Hann will discuss with junior programme head Datuk Misbun Sidek to solve the issue.

“Misbun may want to keep these players for another quarter to provide quality in training. It will give us some time then to test these players, hopefully, in some junior tournaments next year, ” he said.

Reference