UBER CUP 2008 Preview – Zhang-less China still Eyes Prize

As the long awaited Thomas and Uber Cup gets underway this coming weekend, we take a quick look at the history, the draw, the groups, and the possible clashes of […]
ImageAs the long awaited Thomas and Uber Cup gets underway this coming weekend, we take a quick look at the history, the draw, the groups, and the possible clashes of this tournament as all eyes are set on these two prestigious team competitions happening at the famed Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.

By Ng May Ying. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

The Uber Cup is a major international badminton competition contested by national women’s badminton teams. It has been played every two years after merging schedules with the Thomas Cup such that it is played in the same period and venue. The Uber Cup is named after a British ex-shuttler, Betty Uber, who had the idea of hosting a women’s event similar to the much older men’s edition, the Thomas Cup.

The inaugural tournament took place at Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire, England in 1956. In the twenty-one tournaments held until now, only 4 countries have won the Uber Cup with China the most successful team with 10 titles, followed by Japan (5 titles), Indonesia (3 titles) and the United States (3 titles). And this year, China (photo, top) is the clear favourite to retain the title for the eleventh time and lift the trophy for a sixth consecutive time.

Group W sees top seeds China up against Germany and the USA. The Chinese women should find it easy to win all their matches in this group even without the services of their most experienced shuttler, Zhang Ning. Chinese shuttlers are ranked way above their German and American counterparts. Therefore, it should be a breeze for China in the group stage. The only hurdle for them would be in the form of Xu Huaiwen from Germany as the world #8 Xu is capable of creating an upset. Other than that minor hiccup, China will definitely book a place in the next round.

Image Korea, Hong Kong and South Africa square off in Group X as Korea looks to be the slight favourite to top the group. Both Korea and Hong Kong have formidable shuttlers in different departments and this group tie will be evenly contested. Hong Kong boasts of having world #5 Wang Chen and no.12 Yip Pui Yin in their ranks while the Korean pair of Lee Kyung Won/Lee Hyo Jung are almost certain to grab a point for their team. A late injury to top Korean singles shuttler Jun Jae Youn may be a major loss to the team’s campaign as her participation is in doubt. However, the creative Koreans might spring a surprise by fielding scratch pairs that can also win points for their team. Winners of Group X will most likely face Malaysia or Denmark in the quarter-finals.

Image A much more intense battle waits in Group Y as Malaysia, Denmark and New Zealand are pitted against one another. Both Malaysia and Denmark have their top women’s singles players who have created shock waves in the Chinese camp in the past year. The match between Malaysian Wong Mew Choo (photo) and Dane Tine Rasmussen will be a fiery affair as both will want to clinch the first point for their team. Women’s doubles matches will be a case of seniors versus seniors and juniors versus juniors. Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty and Lena Frier Kristiansen-Kamilla Rytter Juhl (photo) will be facing off while the juniors will be playing each other for the very first time. Other singles players in both teams are little known of but their contribution will be vital for their respective teams. New Zealand may also spring a surprise or two judging by their dominance in the Oceania Qualifiers. Winners of Group Y will probably face Germany and earn a much easier path to the semi-finals by avoiding Korea.

Image The toughest group will most likely be Group Z as Japan, Indonesia and the Netherlands fight it out to top the group. Japan’s singles players seem to hold a slight advantage over hosts Indonesia in the form of Eriko Hirose, Kaori Mori and Yu Hirayama. However, the host’s young singles players can certainly give the Japanese a fight for their money especially with the backing of a roaring home crowd in the stadium. Indonesia has two very strong doubles pairs and their matches with the Japanese pairs will be an interesting affair. Vita Marissa-Lilyana Natsir should face off with Kumiko Ogura-Reiko Shiota (photo) to win an all-important point for their respective teams. The Japanese girls will definitely have to work harder to overcome the noisy and vociferous home crowd that will do anything to support their beloved team. Winners of Group Z should face either Korea or Hong Kong in the quarter-finals.

The early group stages are set to bring exciting matches and who knows what will happen in the later stages. The Uber Cup this year promises to be an explosive affair as all teams are gunning to derail defending champion China’s campaign and lift the prestigious trophy themselves. The stadium is set, spirits are high and the fans are ready. Let the competition begin!

Stay tuned to Badzine as we bring you the latest news and reports from Istora Senayan in Jakarta.

For all draws and, eventually, live results, click HERE.

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