NATIONAL singles coach Rashid Sidek has urged the Thomas Cup squad to develop a winning spirit in New Delhi by “reliving” the memories of Malaysia’s triumph in 1992 in Kuala Lumpur.Rashid played a pivotal role at Stadium Negara then as the former national No 1’s unbeatable run in the competition helped Malaysia end the dominance of China and Indonesia to lift the Thomas Cup.
Members of the current squad, however, were too young to remember the historic win 22 years ago.
World No 1 Lee Chong Wei, who is the oldest member of the current 10-member squad, was only 10 then while doubles specialist Hoon Thien How was six.
National No 2 Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren and Tan Boon Heong were only five in 1992 while Tan Wee Kiong, Goh V Shem and Lim Khim Wah were three. Fourth singles Goh Soon Huat was probably still in diapers as a two-year-old.
Despite being regarded as Malaysia’s weakest Thomas Cup lineup in recent times, the team are high in spirit and want to end Malaysia’s drought in New Delhi.
Rashid wants his team to feel the same spirit and confidence of the 1992 team before starting their campaign against India in a Group C match in New Delhi on Sunday.
“What is important is team spirit. We were not the strongest team in 1992 but we still won the title. The only difference that separated us and the other teams was team spirit,” said Rashid at Juara Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
“I’ve been there and experienced the most difficult moments in 1992. I don’t see why we can’t achieve it again.
“The expectations were great then as everyone wanted us to win but we handled them accordingly and only focused on the tournament.
“Everyone is saying that we do not have a good team and that we will fail in New Delhi. But critics should also remember that our previous teams all had weaknesses.”
Rashid hopes the players will forget about past failures and only focused on the Thomas Cup.
“I want them to put aside fear and battle like never before. I hope they can challenge themselves and offer only their best.
“We have prepared them well during the 11-day camp and also covered all areas of preparation. I don’t see why they can’t succeed,” said the 46-year-old.
Rashid also reminded the players that they must support each other in New Delhi.
“The shuttlers have bonded and are behaving like a big happy family. This is what I want. They are eager to make an impression,” said the Banting-born.
The team will leave for New Delhi today and will try out the venue — Siri Fort Sports Complex the same day.
“I hope the players will get adjusted with the courts and to avoid injury, we will not push them too hard,” Rashid added.
Read more: Rashid wants 1992 again - Badminton - New Straits Times