Selangor Journal
Photo for illustration purposes only. — Picture via FACEBOOK

Thomas Cup Finals: Malaysia in Group D with Japan, England, Canada

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 — Malaysia have been drawn in the same group with 2018 Thomas Cup runners-up Japan for the Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark from October 9 to 17.

The draw, which was held virtually today, sees ninth-seeded Malaysia, Japan, England and Canada being pitted in Group D.

The draw also gives Malaysia a chance to avenge their painful 3-2 defeat at the hands of second seeds Japan in the 2014 Thomas Cup final.

Thirteen-time champions and top seeds Indonesia are in Group A with Taiwan, Algeria and Thailand.

Hosts Denmark will have South Korea, France and Germany for company in Group B while reigning champions China enjoyed a favourable draw after being pitted against India, the Netherlands and Tahiti in Group C.

However, a daunting task awaits Malaysia in the group stages of the Uber Cup Finals, having been drawn with 14-time champions China, hosts Denmark and Canada.

Defending champions Japan are in Group A with Indonesia, Germany and France.

Thailand, the 2018 Uber Cup runners-up, are in Group B with India, Spain and Scotland while Group C comprises South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Tahiti and Egypt.

Based on the competition format, the top two teams from each of the four groups in both the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup will advance into the quarter-finals.

Malaysia have won the Thomas Cup five times – in 1949, 1952, 1955, 1967 and 1992.

The national women’s team, however, have never won the Uber Cup since its inception in 1957 in England.

Meanwhile, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann hopes to see his charges finish in the top two of their groups and qualify for the quarter-finals of both the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals.

Despite knowing that the national women’s team would face an acid test in the Uber Cup, Choong Hann challenged them to create an upset to progress into the last eight.

He also said that all players would start training from Aug 23, adding that he would announce the final list of players about two to three weeks before the competitions begin.

National men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia, who described Malaysia as the dark horse of the Thomas Cup Finals, admitted to having a huge responsibility in shouldering the country’s challenge.

The 2021 All England champion urged all players to stay united and pull in the same direction to ensure the team’s success in the competition.

— Bernama

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