AXIATA CUP Day 5 – Victory for Malaysia and Asia All Stars

The Preliminary Round Two of the Axiata Cup 2013 started with the Asia All Stars and the host Malaysia posting victories with identical 3-1 scores to inch closer to clinching […]

The Preliminary Round Two of the 2013 started with the Asia All Stars and the host Malaysia posting victories with identical 3-1 scores to inch closer to clinching berths in the knockout round.

By Mior Muzaffar Mior Dahalan, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur

The fifth tie for Malaysia in the Axiata Cup was against Singapore, who nowadays pose a real threat to the traditional superpowers of badminton in South East Asia such as Indonesia and Malaysia with good male and female singles players, and decent pairs in women’s and mixed doubles.  Perhaps Singapore’s major weakness, particularly in this Axiata Cup, is their men’s doubles category, where they haven’t earned a point since an upset win in their opening tie of the tournament.

The first match was between the up-and-coming Sonia Cheah, ranked 46th in the world, and Singapore Olympian Gu Juan (pictured below).  This is the second match of the year between these two players after their match-up at the 2013 German Open, when Gu Juan won against Sonia in three games.  This time around, Gu Juan showed that she still has the edge over Sonia with another rubber-game win 21-19, 15-21, 21-15.

In the first game, Gu Juan maintained the lead throughout and pulled out to 18-14 when Sonia started to catch up to 19-20 before Gu Juan scored to avoid extra points.  In the second game, Sonia scored an impressive 7 points in a row from the interval to take an 18-ll lead and Gu Juan had to concede that one.  In the third, Gu Juan was just too powerful for Sonia and she took home the final game with a 21-15 score.

The second match was between Chong Wei Feng (pictured top) from Malaysia and Ashton Chen of Singapore.  While world ranking suggested that #16 Chong Wei Feng would easily defeat Ashton Chen, who is ranked a mere 56th, history suggested otherwise as Ashton hold a head to head record of 2-0.  In the first game, both players showed high quality badminton skills but Feng cruised through the latter part of the game to take a 20-12 lead.  Although Ashton managed to take 5 points in the row, Wei Feng wrapped up the first game 21-17.

In the second game, Ashton showed great determination to overcome Wei Feng by a tight 21-19 score before Chong Wei Feng took the decider quite comfortably.

At the press conference after the his match, Chong Wei Feng explained that he put too much pressure on himself, resulting in his losing the second game to Ashton Chen.  He stated that he tried to be mentally stronger to win the third game and he thanked the home supporters for pushing and cheering him to the finish line.

The third match was the mixed doubles match-up between world no.5 Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia and World no.11 Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo of Singapore.  The Malaysian pair justified their world ranking by easily winning against the Singapore pair with a 21-13 and 21-11 score.

The fourth match was the men’s doubles match-up between the Malaysian pair Tan Wee Kiong / Hoon Thien How and Singapore’s Terry Yeo-Liu Yi.  The Malaysian pair did not have to push themselves to the limit and easily won the match with a 21-18, 21-14 score line.

At a later press conference, the Malaysian head coach Rashid Sidek said he will be giving Sonia Cheah more chances to feature in the upcoming fixtures in this tournament as he explained that Sonia is young and is actually the best women’s singles player in Malaysia at the moment and Malaysia’s newest doubles coach Paulus Firman mentioned that he wanted to try out second-ranked pair Tan Wee Kiong / Hoon Thien How and admitted that while his charges did not actually play up to the standard that he has set, he will keep playing them in order to give them more playing time in this tournament.

Earlier in the day, the Asia All Stars attempted to shore up their chances of making the semi-finals when they took on Vietnam.  The Asia All Stars kept their impressive form, following up their tie with Indonesia last weekend by easily beating the Vietnamese 3-1 to stay just a point out of the crucial top four.

This performance was lead by the ever-impressive Lee Hyun Il.  The retired, two-time Olympic bronze medallist from Korea scored his fifth consecutive win in this tournament by beating Nguyen Hoang Nam 21-9, 22-20.  In the earlier women’s singles match, world #9 Tai Tzu Ying beat Vu Thi Trang 21-17, 21-12 to give a glimpse of the newer, stronger line-up that the Asia All Stars have brought to the second preliminary round.

The Vietnamese did manage to win the mixed doubles tie with a surprise win by Duong Bao Duc / Thai Thi Hong Gan (pictured above) over India’s Tarun Kona / Ashwini Ponnappa, the pair’s only win so far aside from their drubbing of the Philippines.  However, Bao Chunlai and Zheng Bo (pictured right) of China made light work of Huynh Nguyen Khang and Bao Minh to leave Vietnam all but mathematically eliminated from the semi-finals, essentially needing six shutouts to all them into the top four.

Click here for complete Day 5 results

For live scoring, click here

Detailed standings can be found here


About Mior Muzaffar Dahalan