The highly anticipated National Finals of the AirAsia-BAM National Junior League (ABNJL) gets underway on Thursday (Jan 11) at Stadium Juara here in Bukit Kiara. (File pix)

KUALA LUMPUR: The highly anticipated National Finals of the AirAsia-BAM National Junior League (ABNJL) gets underway on Thursday (Jan 11) at Stadium Juara here in Bukit Kiara.

After three months (Oct - Dec 2017) of competition in each state, the best of the best in the ABNJL will now battle it out for top honours to become the country’s best boys and girls teams, as well as to earn coveted spots as national players at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (BAM).

In a format similar to the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals, 15 teams each (boys and girls) will be divided into four groups (three groups of four, and one group of three), where they will play one match against each team in their group.

The top two will then advance to the quarter-finals and subsequently the semi-finals and final. Matches will also be played to determine third and fourth places.

Following the conclusion of the ABNJL at state level, where schools competed against each other, the best players have been identified by their respective states to don their colours and be the players to watch at the National Finals.

From Johor, comes the talented Saha sisters, 16-year-old Dyvylyn and 14-year-old Dylyvya.

Hailing from a family of ex national and state shuttlers including their father Davinchy Saha, the duo who play well in both singles and doubles are set to boost the Southern Tigers' squad.

Meanwhile, from the Pearl of the Orient, hopes will rest on the shoulders of state player Wah Jia Wei.

The reigning Penang Under-16 singles and Under-15 doubles champion is on a mission to earn himself a call up to the national squad, wishing to see Malaysia continue being one of badminton's powerhouse nations.

Two other shuttlers, Wan Muhammad Arif Shaharudin Wan Mohd Junaidi from Kemaman, Terengganu and Arena Satu Samin from Sabah, are also expected to pack a punch, as they gear up for the main event which offers a total prize purse of RM100,000.

The RM2 million junior league was launched last year by BA of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, in collaboration with AirAsia as the main title sponsor to revamp the junior development programme and to provide the national team with the next generation of top players to represent the country.

Other sponsors include ENRA Group Berhad, VICTOR Sports, Malaysia Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) and Malaysia Building Society Berhad (MBSB) together with the Ministry of Education and the respective State Education Departments.

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