The stage is all set and ready for a thrilling week-long badminton action as Badminton Asia’s prestigious team event, Selangor Asia Badminton Championships 2024 (SELBATC 2024), hosted for the second consecutive time in Shah Alam, gets underway tomorrow at the Setia City Convention Centre (SCCC).
Powerhouses and China and Indonesia are flying in without their best team, but rest assured, the competition will not be short of excitement as host Malaysia, armed with its strongest squad, eagerly ready to excite the local fans to make up for the disappointment of their dismal showing in last month’s PETRONAS Malaysia Open at Axiata Arena.
And, as defending champions with home soil advantage, the Malaysia men’s team surely have their eyes set on their second consecutive title. But with Japan and India parading their strongest squads, the path to the finals could be stiffer and daunting.
Fresh from his recent training camp in South Korea, Lee Zii Jia is expected to play a vital role in securing Malaysia’s hopes into the finals, along with Ng Tze Yong and Leong Jun Hao in the men’s singles department while expectations are high on former world champion Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin to live up their top billings.
For the record, only four nations — Malaysia, China, Japan, and Indonesia have claimed the BATC titles in either men’s or women’s competition with Japan and Indonesia standing out as multiple-time champions respectively.
In the women’s team event, Japan and South Korea have been consistent in their performance, winning medals in every of the editions since 2016.
The Indian men’s team, the bronze medallist in 2016 and 2918, are poised for a strong showing this time around, eager to make an impact and end their title drought with a historic win in Shah Alam, with hopes on Prannoy, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lakshya Sen, former World No. 1 Kidambi and recently crowned senior national champion Chirag Sen to produce the desired results.
Having won six titles in 2023, including gold medals at the Asian Games and Asian Championships, Indonesia Open 2023 and a Super 1000 event, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty will be the main attraction.
However, the presence of Japan’s elite trios of Kento Momota, Kodai Naraoka and Kenta Nishimoto is proof of the team’s high standings in the tournament, which could well pose a serious challenge to other favourites.
In the women’s competition, Japan looked set for women’s title, which they have claimed twice in 2018 and 2020. The South Korean women’s team are skipping the tournament, with only the men’s team appearing.
With defending champion Indonesia leaving some of their top women shuttlers at home, the Japanese are expected to rise to the occasion, favourites to top Group Y with Nozomi Okuhara, world No.2 pair Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida, Aya Ohori and national champion Miyaura and Asyako Sakuramoto providing depth to the squad.
Despite sending only second-liners, China still possess power especially with world no.4 and 5 pair Liu Sheng Shu/Tan Ning and Zheng Yu/Zhang Shuxian set to steer China to top Group W.
Thailand are also in the running with the presence of in-form Aimsaard sisters Benyapa and Nuntakarn, winners of the recent Thailand Masters. In Busanan Ongbamrungphna and Supanida Katethon, Thailand women’s singles are simply reliable and favourites to top Group Y.
In the absence of Gregoria Mariska Tunjung and top pair Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Ramadanthi, it could be a daunting task for Indonesia but expect their young shuttlers including Putri Kusuma Wardani and Ester Nuurumi to rise to the occasion this time around.
India’s Pusarla V Sindhu will certainly be under spotlight as she heads to Shah Alam, making her return to the competitive circuit after recovering from injuries. She will be backed by senior national champion Anmol Kharb, Tanvi Sharma and Ashmita Chaliha.
The BATC showcases top-notch action by Asia’s bests, one of the world’s biggest tournaments initiated by Badminton Asia to showcase Asia’s best teams and stars in a highly competitive tournament.
Not only does the tournament provide valuable qualification points in the race to the 2024 Olympics in Paris in July, but it also offers the top four teams automatic berths to badminton’s most prestigious tournament, the Thomas and Uber Cup finals scheduled in Chengdu in May.
MATCH SCHEDULE 13 FEBRUARY 2024
China vs Hong Kong
Malaysia vs Brunei
Indonesia vs Saudi Arabia
Thailand vs Singapore
Japan vs Myanmar
Chinese Taipei vs Kazakhstan
Korea vs UAE
Indonesia vs Kazakhstan
Thailand vs UAE
Japan vs Singapore
Indonesia vs Kazakhstan
Group A – China, India, Hong Kong.
Group B – Malaysia, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Brunei.
Group C – Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar.
Group D – Indonesia, South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia.
Group W – China, India.
Group X – Indonesia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan.
Group Y – Thailand, Malaysia, UAE.
Group Z – Japan, Taiwan, Singapore