KUALA LUMPUR (7 February 2018): It is make or break time for the SS Purple League (SSPL) 2017/18 top six teams as the SSPL 2017/18 Finals is fast approaching.
The Finals, which will be held from the 8th to 11th February at the Arena of Stars, Resorts World Genting will feature defending champions, Petaling Jaya Badminton Club (BC), Puchong United BC, Cheras BC, Petaling BC, Ampang Jaya BC and Kepong BC.
Puchong United BC and Cheras BC advanced automatically into the semi-finals after qualifying on merit based on their Stage 1 and 2 performances - finishing first and second respectively.
This season’s favourites, Puchong United BC is eager to get their hands on the elusive SSPL gold. Their team manager, Irina Inozemtseva admitted that it is her fervent hope that her team achieve the success that their performances this season have warranted.
“We are busy both on and off the court preparing for the Finals. It is a lot of work. But in terms of my players, they are ready to face the knockout stage. We have been trying out many types of partnerships and combinations in training to figure out our best line-up,” said Irina.
The Russian international added that there are pros and cons in playing one game less.
“The good thing is that we are only one step away from the final. We don’t have to risk playing additional game which might cause injuries and the outcome of the game might also go either way.
“But the downside is we get lesser time to get used to the court and the playing conditions before our important semi-final game. No matter what, we will be going to Genting earlier and have arranged some court test sessions to get comfortable,” she added.
Meanwhile, last year’s winners, Petaling Jaya BC will take on Ampang Jaya BC in the first quarterfinal while Kepong BC and Petaling BC will battle it out in the other quarterfinal match.
The defending champions have been struggling with a dip in form throughout the early stages of the SSPL 2017/18. But head coach Yeoh Kay Lun was quick to defend his team’s Stage 1 and 2 displays.
“Our target was to qualify for the Finals. It doesn’t matter how we got here as long as we are here playing in the knockout stage. Our performances in Stage 1 and 2 did not really reflect on our true strengths,” he added.
For the finals, Petaling Jaya BC will be banking on the Korean pair, Kim Sa Rang and Kim Gi Jung in the men’s doubles department. They have also drafted in Thai international, Mek Narongrit as their second men’s singles option.
This season’s SSPL winners will walk away with RM520,000 while the runners-up will pocket RM265,000.