January 29, 2024
PETALING JAYA – Leong Jun Hao will bank on his past experience to bolster Malaysia’s title defence in the Asia Team Championships at the Setia Alam Convention Centre from Feb 13-18.
The world No. 37 was initially not part of the squad announced by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) but a recurring injury to Justin Hoh forced the coaches to have a rethink and include Jun Hao for the tournament.
Jun Hao will not be a novice in team events as he featured as the third singles in the 2020 Thomas Cup in Aarhus and in the same event in Bangkok two years ago where Malaysia were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
He was also part of the 2022 title-winning squad at the Asia team meet where Malaysia defeated Indonesia 3-0 in the final.
Jun Hao was also part of the Hangzhou Asian Games squad where Malaysia lost 1-3 to South Korea but didn’t see action in the match.
However, Jun Hao is looking forward to helping the team achieve the top four target and secure their Thomas Cup finals berth on merit.
The other singles players in the squad are world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia, Ng Tze Yong and Eogene Ewe.
“I am happy to get the chance of playing in the Asia Team again. I have taken part in many team events and hope the experience will help me contribute a point for Malaysia if I’m called upon,” said the 24-year-old Jun Hao.
“Playing in the third singles will be a crucial role and in order to do well in that position, I have to be confident and also perform consistently.
“I had some good results in the Indonesian Masters and will be playing in the Thailand Masters next week.
“A good run in Bangkok will be a boost and a good build-up before playing at the Asia Team event.”
At the Indonesian Masters, Jun Hao did well to win two matches in the qualifying rounds and upset world No. 11 Kenta Nishimoto of Japan to reach the second round.
He eventually lost to world No. 4 Anthony Ginting of Indonesia but will be hoping to have a better run in the Thailand Masters which begins in Bangkok tomorrow.
At the 2022 Asia Teams, Malaysia wrapped up their ties 3-1 against South Korea in the semi-finals and 3-0 against Indonesia in the final, thus Jun Hao’s services were not required.
However, he played a role in the victory against Japan in the third singles where Malaysia won 3-2 to earn a spot in the semi-finals.
Jun Hao can earn the trust of the coaches with a good performance in the Asia Team meet and strengthen his chance of playing at the Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu, China in May.