Home2018'The best is yet to come from Iskandar' - believes Misbun

‘The best is yet to come from Iskandar’ – believes Misbun

(*Credit image: Stadium.MY)

Just hours after landing in Alor Setar it was a solid one-hour training for Malaysia's Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin under coach Misbun Sidek as Malaysia prepare for their opening Group C match on Tuesday in the E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships.

It is a must win match for Malaysia and Thailand in the group which also consists of strong contenders for a quarter-final berth Chinese Taipei and minnows Myanmar.

The Malaysia versus Thailand and the Chinese Taipei versus Myanmar ties are scheduled at 7pm local time.

Iskandar's form of late has been a cause for concern for Malaysia but his march into the semi-finals in last week's Yonex-Sunrise Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta India Open in New Delhi has given Malaysia and coach Misbun Sidek renewed hope of making the knockout stage – which means a top two place in the group.

There was no let up during the one hour Misbun put Iskandar to a solid workout on Court 4 which was keenly watched by the other teams that were also training on adjacent courts.  

It was a punishing workout but Iskandar took all his stride – knowing that he must justify Misbun has in him amidst some criticism thrown at, both, Misbun and Iskandar, following a spate of poor results from the player.

Iskandar, ranked No. 86, his first semi-finals appearance since the China Open 2016.

Iskandar had to go through the qualifying rounds to make the main draw in the India Open.

Enroute to the semifinals Iskandar upset defending champion and No 2 seed K. Srikanth of India in the second round and in the quarter-finals stopped another Indian Sameer Verma.

In the semi-finals Iskandar fought tooth and nail with world No.8 Shi Yuqi of China before bowing out  21-18, 10-21, 19-21 in a three-game thriller.

"Iskandar has responded very well to the tough training schedule I have drawn up for Iskandar and it is also the same with the other players," said Misbun after the training session.

Misbun, however, did not reveal if Iskandar will feature in his match plans against Thailand – keeping his strategies close to his chest.

"We will have a team meeting before we decide who will take to the court…it is important that we plan our match strategies well to beat Thailand.

Thailand is a strong opponent and we will not underrate or take things for granted," added Misbun.

"As a coach my job is to help groom and shape up players and most importantly the players are willing to learn.

Now you can see the hunger in Iskandar to win matches.

"You could see in training just now how Iskandar was willing to train and he fought for every point and did not give up easily, knowing that every point is precious if you want to win matches."

The E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships also double up as the qualifier for the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok, Thailand from May 20-27.

The top four (semi-finalists) will an automatic ticket to the Thomas Cup Finals. 



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