SHAH ALAM – World number 126 Leong Jun Hao rescued Malaysia from the clutches of defeat after scoring the game-winning point against Japan with a 3-2 victory in the final group match at the Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) 2022 yesterday (18 Feb).
This much-needed win has guaranteed Malaysia a spot as the semi-finals as well as the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok in May.
Lee Zii Jia secured the first point for the team after surviving a grueling three-set battle against Riku Hanato.
However, Tokyo Olympics men’s doubles bronze medalists Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik failed to continue the winning streak after falling to Ayato Endo-Yuta Takei in straight sets.
Malaysia then proceeded to lose the third game and trailed 1-2 despite Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin’s best efforts to take down Koo Takahashi in a nail-biting 76 minute match.
Thankfully, men’s doubles Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Mohd Rumsani restored the hopes of Malaysian fans after winning 17-21, 21-17, 21-17 over Shuntaro Mezaki-Haruya Nishida, tying the score at 2-2.
Leong told Stadium Astro that he had never been in a tense situation like this before.
I’ve never played in a team event where the score was 2-2. I’m grateful I was able to contribute the winning point. It was a stressful scenario because the Japanese put me through a lot of ordeals.
“I simply told myself to keep calm and take it one step at a time,” he added.
Malaysia’s men and women’s team will be facing South Korea while Singapore will take on Indonesia after crushing Kazakhstan 5-0.
Cover image via Facebook/ Badmintonwithu2013
Editor: Sarah Yeoh