THOMAS CUP 2008 PREVIEW – Badminton’s Big Guns Trained on China

The battle for victory at the prestigious Thomas Cup will begin in Jakarta, Indonesia this Sunday, May 11th.  Several countries are climbing their way steadily to the top while China […]

ImageThe battle for victory at the prestigious Thomas Cup will begin in Jakarta, Indonesia this Sunday, May 11th.  Several countries are climbing their way steadily to the top while China will definitely be holding on tightly to their dear glory and will not relinquish the title without a fight.

By Serla Rusli, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Since the first Thomas Cup in 1948, a fourth country is yet to have a taste of the title. So far only Malaysia, Indonesia and China have ever emerged on top, with Denmark being crowned runner-up on many occasions. Meanwhile, Korea, with a strong, mostly young team that seems to be peaking, is still looking for its first trip to the finals.

ImageChina, the title holder, is expected to cruise through to the quarter-final without much resistance. The solid line-up of top-ranked players, including world #1 Lin Dan (photo), will certainly prove too overwhelming for Nigeria and Canada, who are both China’s companions in Group A.

The host country Indonesia has a good standing to emerge as a winner of Group D against Thailand and Germany. The only possible trouble might be created by Thai superman Boonsak Ponsana in the men’s singles department, who will most likely be playing against Sony Dwi Kuncoro.

Once they reach the quarter-final, the Danish squad will await them if the Europeans can beat both Japan and New Zealand in Group C. This will be a deja vu of the 2004 Thomas Cup semi-finals when, in the very same venue, the Danes abruptly dashed Indonesia’s dream of extending their winning streak to six Thomas Cup titles. The Indonesian coach’s decision to drop the second-ranked Alvent Yulianto / Luluk Hadiyanto and replace them with the scratch pair Candra Wijaya / Nova Widianto (finalists at the Badminton Asia Championships last month) might prove to be a critical one in this possible quarter-final clash.

Denmark, meanwhile, will be hoping to improve on their runner-up status from the last two editions and take their first ever the Thomas Cup. Kenneth Jonassen (photo), now at world #5 and sitting on recent victories over Bao Chunlai and Chen Jin, will find himself facing the mighty Lin Dan if and when Denmark can bring about another showdown with the defending champions.

Image Group B, consisting of Malaysia, South Korea and England, sees the much-awaited clash between Malaysia and South Korea. The match could go either way after the Koreans proved that they could challenge a full-fledged Malaysian team with their under-strength team in the Asian Qualifiers. The Koreans were able to nip 2 points from Malaysia in Ho Chi Minh City last February.

Image Malaysian coach Rexy Maniaky has definitely recognized the threats that Korean doubles may impose on the Malaysian team. Rexy is ready to field Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (photo) as the pair to face Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae if he feels that Koo/Tan would have a better chance than the veteran pair Choong Tan Fook / Lee Wan Wah in beating top Korean doubles pair. Nevertheless, Lee Chong Wei as the first singles still holds the key to set the mood of the team going and thus has the important task of beating the top-ranked Korean singles player Park Sung-Hwan (photo)who was responsible, along with Jung/Lee, for Korea’s double-gold take at the Asian Championships.

Expect surprises and smashing badminton action as all the countries are eyeing the highly celebrated Thomas Cup. Rest assured that Badzine will be there to catch the action live at Istora Senayan, Jakarta and bring it to you!

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About Serla Rusli