Malaysia and Hong Kong fight for last Thomas Cup berth

Hosts Malaysia may be in a do-or-die battle with Hong Kong in Alor Setar, with a spot at the Badminton Asia Championship semi-final and the Thomas Cup Finals in Thailand […]

Hosts Malaysia may be in a do-or-die battle with Hong Kong in Alor Setar, with a spot at the Badminton Asia Championship semi-final and the Thomas Cup Finals in Thailand both at stake.

Last week, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) President Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria seemed confident that his men’s team was assured of a spot in the Thomas Cup Finals but all may yet depend on the results of today’s quarter-final round at the Badminton Asia Men’s Team Championships.  Three berths at the Thomas Cup Finals – slated to be held in May in Bangkok – will be decided by an as yet unpublished team and the four lowest-ranked Asian men’s teams are all facing one another in the final 8 in Alor Setar today.

Of the top 10 teams by world ranking, Asia has 9 but only 8 of these can be sent to Bangkok.  Denmark, currently #2 in the rankings, qualifies automatically as the defending champion, as does Thailand as the host.  In addition, four non-Danish teams from next week’s European Championships will qualify, as will the winners of the Pan Am and All African Team Championships, plus Australia, who took the Oceania men’s team crown earlier this week.

That leaves 8 Asian teams vying for 7 spots.  4 will qualify by reaching the semi-finals in Alor Setar, then 3 more will need to qualify based on ranking.  If Thailand beats Korea in the quarter-finals, one additional Asian team will be selected by ranking for the Thomas Cup.  Chinese Taipei is the only one of the top ten teams not to reach the quarters of its continental team championships but they are guaranteed a spot in Bangkok by virtue of the fact that no more than four of the six teams ranked below them can qualify on the basis of reaching the semi-finals.  The team ranking totals, as of the February 8th world ranking tables, are shown below:

China    373,300    
(titleholder) Denmark    318,745    
Indonesia    290,172    
Chinese Taipei    269,674    BAC Team Quarter-finals
Japan    252,785   China vs. India
India    246,032    Malaysia vs. Hong Kong
Malaysia    225,432   Thailand vs. Korea
Korea    223,034    Japan vs. Indonesia
Hong Kong    198,944    
(host) Thailand    197,983    
  • The above preliminary numbers have been compiled by the writer as the relevant team rankings are not updated weekly by the .  The rankings that finally determine Thomas and Uber Cup participation will be based on the February 22nd World Rankings

Clearly, the Malaysians are in the clear if they can simply beat Hong Kong and reach the semis.  If they lose, however, then Hong Kong will qualify automatically for the Thomas Cup finals and it will be down to Malaysia and Korea.  If Korea wins, they too will qualify automatically as well as Thailand, which has qualified as the host.   However, if both Malaysia and Korea lose, it will be decided on ranking.

Here is where the BAM president was working on imperfect information.  By next week, Malaysia and Korea will be almost equal in team points.  Malaysia is using two singles players whose points are not currently contributing to the team ranking, while Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng’s points will remain constant, as will Lee Chong Wei’s since BWF rules will not allow him more points than he already has from the Sudirman Cup.  The same goes for their top men’s doubles pair and the only uptick they can expect from results in Alor Setar are from Lee Zii Jia and their second men’s doubles pair.

Korea, in contrast, has two singles players and one doubles pair that have already ensured their rankings will increase substantially.  In fact, it appears the Koreans are already assured of a spot in Bangkok with their points projected to rise to around 230,000 by next Thursday.   This means that even if they lose in the quarter-finals, then they will almost certainly be a few thousand points ahead of Malaysia, meaning that the hosts need to beat Hong Kong.

With both the titleholders and hosts of the Uber Cup coming from Asia, all 8 quarter-finalists in the women’s team competition in Alor Setar are assured of qualifying for the Uber Cup finals.  Hong Kong may also qualify, unless one of the three European teams ranked higher fails to reach the semi-finals next week in Kazan.

Photo: Chee Ying Fan / Badzine (live)

 

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net