Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) technical director Morten Frost has admitted that Malaysia does not have anyone good enough to fill Lee Chong Wei's shoes once he retires.
Chong Wei missed out on winning his maiden World Championships title on Sunday when he lost to world number one Chen Long in the tournament final. The 32-year-old may not have another chance to triumph at a World Championship, having hinted that he will retire in the not too distant future, with the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro a possible swansong.
While Malaysia have a few diamonds in the rough, including former junior world champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli, who upset sixth seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei in the first round of the World Championships, Frost believes that the post-Chong Wei era is looking barren and desolate for Malaysia.
"For Chong Wei, he will face another major tournament (Olympics) in one year's time. We will prepare him. We will try to find an answer to counter Chen Long," Frost told The Star. "Unfortunately, we don't have the players in the same calibre like Chong Wei in the back-up squad. We need at least another three years to push them."
Frost also conceded that it will be tough to turn Malaysia's young shuttlers into top 10 material and potential world champions, but added that he hopes to rectify that as time wears on.
"My aim is to help ease them into the world’s top 10 and see how far they can go from there. It is going to be hard," he said. "I am sorry but the situation in the men's singles right now is like porridge – no one is really sticking out.
"Some of them are showing signs of improvements but to say that they are the next Chong Wei is too much to ask for. I have been brought in to help and I need time to do so."
In addition to Zulkiffli, the Malaysian fraternity will be looking to any of Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Cheam June Wei, Soong Joo Ven, R. Satheishtharan and Soo Teck Zhi to step up and fill the void when Chong Wei retires.