PETALING JAYA - Badminton fever is at an all-time high at the food joints in the country as operators gear up for the Thomas Cup finals today.
A food court, which is known for having the biggest TV screen in Kota Damansara, is expecting a surge in customers during the live broadcast.
"As it is, we're always packed during the weekends. Having the finals on a Sunday means that things would get really busy around here," said assistant manager Shareen Farzidah Sukri, 25.
"But it's what we like, what we invite and encourage. Badminton has always had the power to bring people from all walks of life together," she added.
"The fighting spirit and sportsmanship of our players have always been a source of national pride."
A 34-year-old drinks vendor, who wished to be known only as Zack, said the crowd went wild at the food court after Malaysia beat Indonesia in the semi-finals Friday.
"I'm not surprised they reacted that way. Seeing our players march to the finals is a great feeling," he added.
The excitement is not lost on Mahmudah Yaakob, 60, who operates a stall called Bawal Special in the food court.
"We will be increasing our food stock as well as our chairs," she promised.
Mahmudah said she would offer regular customers the favourite keli goreng set meal for free if the Malaysian badminton players successfully clinched the Cup.
In Penang too, most eateries are all fired up.
A nasi kandar outlet manager said it was full house during the semi-finals.
"On Friday, some customers arrived a few hours earlier to reserve seats for their friends and only left after the competition ended.
"Since they usually come in groups, we had to add extra seats and tables," he said at the premises in Jalan Macalister yesterday.
A food court co-owner, who preferred to be known only as Loh, said all six LCD television sets at his outlet in Pengkalan Weld will be tuned in to the Thomas Cup finals.
"We are stocking up on beers too," said Loh, who is a fan of various sports.
Meanwhile, a lucrative payout of RM1mil awaits the Malaysian men's badminton team if it can beat Japan to lift the Thomas Cup in New Delhi today.
If the national shuttlers end up as runners-up, then they will get RM250,000 (S$97,470).
Malaysia last won the Cup when it hosted the tournament in 1992.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor have sent words of encouragement to the players.
Their inspiring words were conveyed through world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei via a telephone conversation from Kazakhstan.