Home2022The Challenges for the Young Blood

The Challenges for the Young Blood

The Selangor Badminton Asia Team Championships 2022 is about to be held in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia from 15-20 February. The draw for the event which also serves as the qualifying for the Thomas and Uber Cup was held on Tuesday (08/02/2022) at the Selangor State Sports Council in Shah Alam at 13:30 Malaysia Time. 

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic still happening, a number of countries decided to not participate. The Selangor Badminton Asia Team Championships 2022 will only be participated by a total of 8 countries. 

 

The men’s team is divided into Group A and Group B, and the women’s team is divided into Group Y and Group Z. The division of the team is based on the BWF World Ranking on January 25, 2022. Prior to the draw, Indonesia was the first seed for the men’s team, followed by Japan as the second seed. In the women’s team, Japan was the top seed and South Korea was the second seed. 

 

After the draw, the men’s team draw result put Indonesia in Group A along with India, South Korea, and Hong Kong. In Group B, Japan will compete with Malaysia, Singapore, and Kazakhstan. For the women’s team, Group Y has Japan, India, Malaysia, and Singapore. Meanwhile, Group Z has by South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Kazakhstan. 

 

Compared to the previous Badminton Asia Team Championships which is held in 2020, this year’s tournament seems to radiate a different level of sparks. In addition to the lack of countries participating and the absence of powerhouses such as China, Thailand, and Chinese Taipei, the majority of the badminton players are not the top seeds. A lot of countries sent their young bloods. 

 

Similar to the Thomas Cup last year, Indonesia did not send their strongest squads. Among the Thomas Cup last year’s squad, there is only Chiko Aura Wardoyo, ranked #55, and still 23-year-old, and Daniel Martin/Leo Rolly Carnando, ranked #28, who will take part in the Selangor Badminton Asia Team Championships 2022. The rest of the Indonesian squad are young players who have never tasted the toughness of an international event as tough as the Asian Championships, let alone the Thomas Cup.

 

It won’t be easy for Indonesia to defend the title that has been won three times in 2016, 2018, and 2020. The Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) is sending young athletes to the upcoming team championships to provide opportunities for future athletes to gain experience and test their mentality. 

 

The toughest rival in the upcoming competition that can take the title is most likely Malaysia. The reason is that in the singles team, Malaysia still has their 2020 Thomas Squad which includes Lee Zii Jia, the All England 2021 Champion. There is still a good chance for Malaysia to be able to take one point, even if they meet Indonesia in the Finals. Malaysian singles player, Lee Zii Jia who is only 23-year-old is currently ranked #7 in the BWF World Ranking. Out of all the participants, he has the highest rankings and is difficult for other countries to beat except for two singles players: Lakshya Sen from India who is currently ranked 13th in the World Rank and has just won the India Open 2022 and 2021 BWF World Champion Loh Kean Yew from Singapore who is currently ranked #12. 

 

Lee Zii Jia will be accompanied by Ng Tze Yong and Leong Jun Hao in the Malaysian Team. Although Tze Yong and Jun Hao’s rankings are not as high as Lee Zii Jia’s, they are both listed in the Thomas Cup 2020 squad. As a matter of fact, Tze Yong has always been chosen as the second single and Jun Hao as the third single. Doubles Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik has a good chance to secure more points. Winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics spoke well of their performance. 

 

Japan, the second seed, is showing confidence in both in the singles as well as the doubles. The Japanese squad team who will be competing at the Selangor Badminton Asia Team Championships 2021 are not the same as the 2020 Thomas Cup Team. In the Japanese singles, only two athletes are ranked internationally namely Minoru Koga ranked #129 and Riku Hatano ranked #340. 

 

In the women’s team, though the majority of the countries brought young badminton players, Japan team does not rely on their 2020 Uber Cup Squad which means there are no names such as Akane Yamaguchi, Sayaka Takahashi, or Aya Ohori. Nor are there any doubles tough Japanese pairs participating. Japan has only sent six athletes competing in five matches and only two singles had world rankings namely Natsuki Nidaira, ranked 72, and Riko Gunji ranked 181. While in the doubles, the pair of Yuna Kato/Rui Hirokami both ranked 656. 

 

Indonesia has more ranked individual participants compare to other countries. Indonesia sent their first singles player in the 2020 Uber Cup, Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, a 22-year-old woman who is currently ranked #27 in the BWF World Ranking and is the highest out of all other women’s singles in the Selangor Badminton Asia Team Championships 2022. Besides Gregoria, there’s Putri Kusuma Wardani who is ranked 76 also has experience in the last Uber Cup. The other three singles are also internationally ranked but far below Gregoria and Putri. They are Stephanie Widjaja who’s ranked #296, Bilqis Prasista ranked #478 and Saifi Rizka Nurhidayah ranked #766. In the doubles, Indonesia relies on the world #121 pair Febriana Dwi Puji Kusuma/Amalia Cahaya Pratiwi. 

 

The Selangor Badminton Asia Team Championships 2022 might be less prestigious than past editions. For the participants, however, this event is a place where they can gain experience before eventually taking over their seniors.

 

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