It is a dream final again in the E-Plus Badminton Asia Women’s Team Championships with defending champions China playing Japan in a repeat final on Sunday.

In the 2016 Asia Team Championships, the Chinese defeated Japan 3-2 in the final in Hyderabad.

At the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium in Alor Setar on Saturday, the Chinese overcame South Korea 3-1 while Japan had to stave off a fierce resistance from the Indonesians who succumbed in three-game battles which ended with the Japanese coming off 3-0 winners.

Japan head coach Park Joo-bong was quick to admit that “it was a really tough match” although we won the tie 3-0″ against Indonesia.

“It will be another tough, tough match against China in the final tomorrow (Sunday). The Chinese are strong in all three singles while the doubles pairs that are new. This is the first time I am seeing China’s doubles pairs…and they look good,” said Joo-bong.

Akane Yamaguchi (main pix), ranked No 2, was taken the full distance, coming back from a game down to win 17-21, 21-13, 21-17 against Fitriani Fitriani for the first point which came after 61 minutes.

Rio Olympics champions Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi had to stay even longer on the court – 88 minutes – before they prevailed 20-22, 21-19, 21-18 against Indonesia’s rising pair Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu for Japan’s second point.

Nozomi Okuhara secured the winning point for Japan but it was also struggle for the Japanese in her 21-5, 19-21, 21-15 win in 55 minutes over junior world champion Gregoria Mariska Tunjung,

The Koreans were left disappointed in their failure to beat China.

“We came here with a mission…to play in the final. However, we have lost in the semi-finals to China. We flopped in the singles and that turned out to be the turning point against us,” said Korea coach Kim Jih-yun.

Former junior world champion Chen Yufei needed 40 minutes before prevailing 21-14, 21-15 over Korean number one Sung Ji-hyun.

The Korean hopes were raised when Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan tamed Dong Wenjing-Feng Xueying in straight games 21-13, 21-9 to make it 1-1.

He Bingjiao restored China’s lead when she edged Lee Jang-mi 21-19, 21-19 in 52 minutes before Cao Tong-wei-Yu Zheng clinched he winning point after a 21-17, 21-14 win over Chang Ye-na-Kim Hye-rin. – BY BADMINTON ASIA

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