National junior development director Misbun Sidek was pleased with his young charges despite a long drought from competitive action at the international stage this year.
Misbun, who was appointed the national junior chief earlier this year, was not able to see how his shuttlers fare on the international stage as the COVID-19 pandemic brought all sports activities, including badminton, to a stop earlier this year.
He had to bide his time and gauge his players through training sessions and internal affairs, but he was pleased with what he has seen so far.
“Based on the overall objectives I had intended for the players including ranking and playoff matches and internal team meets, I am satisfied. Their levels are close to each other, based on the match results. Their intensity and playing style has also changed dramatically since I first got them.
“It’s good that they have absorbed the coaches advice and are showing it on court,” Misbun told Berita Harian.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) had organised a Junior Mixed Team Championship, to which the Junior Avengers emerged champions after they beat Junior Terminators 8-4 on Saturday.
Misbun had plenty to smile about after watching the likes of Jacky Kok, ranked third on the world junior rankings and Fazriq Razif do well.
Besides this, he also saw how Siti Nurshuhaini, V.Poopathi and Justin Hoh shone in the national junior ranking events.
Misbun is grooming his players for two big assignments next year – the Asian Junior Championships and World Junior Championships.
Malaysia missed out on a medal at both the events in 2019, and would be eager to get amongst the medal recipients next year.
Junior shuttlers have usually done well in the age-group category meets – Zulfadli Zulkiffli, Soo Teck Zhi and Leong Jun Hao won the boys’ singles title at the Asian meet, while Zulfadli and Goh Jin Wei also triumphed at the world junior meet.
The juniors would take a break until the end of this year and return for training on January 4.