Malaysia lost to a better team as defending champions Indonesia retained the men’s team title with a 3-1 win in the final played at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila on Sunday – completing a hat-trick of wins.
Indonesia won the title in Hyderabad, India in 2016 and retained it in Alor Setar, Malaysia in 2018. In the last edition, Indonesia defeated China also by a 3-1 margin.
For Malaysia, the defeat was ”painful” but Malaysians can be proud of both the men’s and women’s teams in Manila who qualified for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals on merit with a top-four finish.
Malaysia team manager Wong Choong Hann said: ”Despite the defeat in the final the players deserve credit for their splendid run in Manila. They showed character to reach the final with impressive 3-0 wins over Korea (quarter-finals) and Japan (semi-finals) and India (4-1) in a group match.
”We had a good run but we fell at the final hurdle…we lost to a better team on the day. It means we will have more work to do. The weakness and flaws that showed up in Manila will have to be remedied.
Second singles once again stood out for Malaysia when he kept the team in the race by winning his second singles match against Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie with 21-16, 17-21, 24-22 win in a 68-minute battle to narrow the deficit to 1-2 in favor Indonesia.
”I am disappointed that we could not win. However, it was a win in vain as Indonesia clinched victory in the second doubles through scratch pair Mohammad Ahsan-Fajar Alfian who beat Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi 21-18, 21-17 to seal the tie 3-1.
Lee Zii Jia went out in straight games 20-22, 16-21 against Anthony Ginting in the first singles in 46 minutes.
In the first doubles, the “Minions”’ faced some resistance from Malaysia’s top pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik but ran out 22-20, 21-16 winner for Indonesia’s second point before June Wei made a pit stop to check the champions.
All-Indonesia Badminton Association (PBSI) high-performance director Susy Susanti was delighted and happy with the win but was quick to point out ”that a tougher journey” awaits in the Thomas Cup Finals in Denmark.
MEN’S TEAM FINAL
INDONESIA 3 MALAYSIA 1
MS1: Anthony Ginting beat Lee Zii Jia 22-20, 21-16
MD1: Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo beat Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik 22-20, 21-16
MS2: Jonatan Christie lost to Cheam June Wei 21-16, 17-21, 22-24
MD2: Mohammad Ahsan-Fajar Alfian beat Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi 21-18, 21-17