Former champions Malaysia were handed an easy draw in the Badminton Asia Junior Mixed Team Championships 2017 to be held in Jakarta from July 22-30 when drawn in Group B together with Singapore, Vietnam, Macau and Myanmar.
With the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals Malaysia look good for the knockout stage and that is when the battle starts for the Malaysians who will have 2015 world junior girls’ singles champion Goh Jin Wei in the team.
Malaysia won the title twice – in 2007 and 2009 – since it was turned into a mixed team event in 2006.
At the last championships held in Bangkok the Malaysians lost 3-0 to China in the quarter-finals. China, the defending champions, have won the title the last four years – each time defeating South Korea in the final.
China, however, are unseeded this year. The Koreans are seeded No 1 with Indonesia second, Thailand third and Malaysia fourth. The Chinese are way below at ninth place with the overall strength of the teams determined based on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) ranking list dated 29th June 2017.
In the draw conducted in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, the Koreans were drawn in Group A together with India, China and Uzbekistan.
Group C is made up of Thailand, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and the Philippines. Hosts Indonesia are in Group C and have Chinese Taipei,Hong Kong and Nepal for company.
Malaysia may have landed an easy group but coach Kwan Yoke Meng is not too happy with the draw – as it could jeopardize Malaysia’s hopes of reaching the last four.
Yoke Meng, a former Thomas Cupper, believes that Malaysia could end up playing a tough opponent in the quarter-finals.
The men’s singles top seed is India’s Lakshya Sen – a beaten semi-finalist last year. Lee Chia Hao of Chinese Taipei is seeded second with Thailand’s Kunlavut seeded third. Malaysia\s Leong Jun Hao is seeded No 6.
Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska is the top seed in the women’s singles with Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min seeded second. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH
MIXED TEAM TOP FOUR SEEDS