Misbun Sidek says the national squad that will take part in the Asia Team Championship is the best in the nation. File pic by SAIFULLIZAN TAMADI

KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s singles head coach, Misbun Sidek has admitted that the players who will represent the country at the Asia Team Championship, which is the qualifying round for the Thomas Cup later this year, are Malaysia’s best, including Soong Joo Ven.

According to him, Malaysia’s team sheet is as strong as it can be because it is made up of the country’s best players.

"They are the best although some may see it as not the strongest line-up. However, all the players still have a chance to play and fight for our beloved country and it is from such a challenge that we will have a formidable and potent team,” said Misbun of the team which has Lee Chong Wei, Lee Zii Jia and Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin in its ranks.

He explained that after the squad’s line-up announcement yesterday, he hopes all the players will be well prepared to do their very best for the country in the championship which takes place next month.

"As the men’s singles head coach, it is also my responsibility to help them prepare as best as possible so that they are in the best mental and physical condition for competition. I will also be monitoring them and assessing their performance while helping them to address and improve on weaknesses in any areas. What’s priority right now is preparation in training.

"After five months here, I can say that I am satisfied with the players’ preparations and training. At present I do not have plans to carry out centralised training anywhere else. What I will be doing is special training focusing on building up their strengths so that they can be at the same level as Chong Wei,” said Misbun.

When asked about Joo Ven’s selection for the squad, he said that he had been following the 22-year-old player’s progress ever since last year’s Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in August.

"At that time Joo Ven was the second singles player and even then I could see that he has to potential to be a top player. I can also see that he can be molded into a world beater from now itself. He is also quite well balanced compared to the other players.

"He is well balanced in terms of performance, so I will seize the opportunity to prepare him as best I can for this championship because he can take on the responsibility and has what it takes to do well for us,” said Misbun.

Joo Ven’s selection ended speculation as to who would be the fourth singles player in the squad which revolved around players such as Zulfadli Zulkiffli, Leong Jun Hao, Lim Chi Wing, Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren.

Jun Hao who is the Asia Junior Champion will be part of the national squad that will compete in Alor Star from February 6 to 11 which will enable him to gain valuable experience and exposure to team competition.

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