Yongbo was candid that his team was not as strong as in last year’s World Championships
Beijing: China must temper its expectations ahead of the badminton World Championships in Paris later this month and taking home just three of the five titles up for grabs is a realistic target, said head coach Li Yongbo. China won all but the mixed doubles at last year’s World Championships in India but the outspoken coach said the poor form of some key players this year could weaken their dominance. “Of course I always want all five. But this time we have to be less optimistic,” Li told Titan News. “It is impossible to even match last years four wins.”
The Chinese women’s team suffered a shock defeat to South Korea in the Uber Cup in May, ending their hold on the trophy that went back to 1998. “The women are still in the shadow of the Uber Cup defeat, and the best men’s pair, Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, have not played together for months because they represent different clubs in the domestic league. So it is also very difficult,” he added.
Lin Dan, who has won the men’s singles at the last three world championships, is the only in-form player in the China team, Li said. The Olympic champion, however, faces a tough path to a fourth title with world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat in the same side of the draw. “Lin is doing very well recently,” Li said. “I believe he could beat Lee in the semis just like he did at this year’s Thomas Cup. And I hope he could win the fourth consecutive title… so we do not want more. Three will be enough.”