Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria has urged the national squad to rise to the occasion when Malaysia hosts the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Kedah next year. Pix by Asyraf Hamzah

KUALA LUMPUR: Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria has urged the national squad to rise to the occasion when Malaysia hosts the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Kedah next year.

The competition on Feb 6-11 will also serve as the qualifier for the Thomas and Uber Cup in Bangkok, Thailand in May.

"First of all I would like to thank Badminton Asia for acknowledging us (BAM) and trusting us to host this event. It's a historic milestone for BAM and the BA of Kedah.

"As we play host, we must also prove that we are not just making up the numbers. We must play the best we can.

"The tournament also serves as the qualifier for the Thomas and Uber Cup in Thailand, and if you look at our team's performance this year especially at the Sea Games last month, I think our women's team have a good chance to shine as well," said Norza on Friday, after the signing ceremony at the Sime Darby Convention Centre here in Bukit Kiara.

The four teams that reach the semi-finals in both the men's and women's team event will qualify on merit for the Thomas and Uber Cup.

At the inaugural team championships in Hyderabad last year, Malaysia failed to reach the last four stages. They, however, qualified for the Thomas and Uber Cup in Kunshan, China based on world ranking at the eleventh hour.

This time around, host Thailand are already guaranteed a spot, while Denmark and China are also in as defending champions in the Thomas and Uber Cup, respectively.

"Just yesterday, I spoke to all four head coaches (Misbun Sidek, Cheah Soon Kit, Tey Seu Bock and Wong Pei Tty) as there is no mixed doubles involved.

"I made it clear that they will have to work together from now. Preparation starts now if we want to come good in February.

"Our goal is to deliver the best result at the Thomas and Uber Cup, so we have to make the qualifiers a good one," added Norza.

The last time Malaysia won the Thomas Cup was back in 1992.

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