Indonesia Rides Youth Movement To Sudirman Cup


As it sends its squad off to China, the Indonesian Badminton Association will put its faith in the promise of youth.

Indonesia’s team for the Sudirman Cup mixed team championship, which begins on Sunday in Guangzhou, China, is dominated by young shuttlers. Even so, the association expects the team to notch its third successive finals appearance.

Indonesia opens Group 1B play against Japan on Sunday, followed by matches against England the next day and tournament favorite China on May 14. The top two teams in each group advance. Denmark, Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong make up Group 1A.

At first glance, men’s doubles might look like Indonesia’s best chance for points. However, Markis Kido — part of the world’s No. 1 pair with Hendra Setiawan — has only recently recovered from a knee injury.

The country’s No. 2 pair, Bona Septano and Muhammad Ahsan, also have issues, with Bona having recently returned from an ankle injury.

That could press Indonesia’s third pair, Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki and Ryan Sukmawan, into service.

“If the coach asks us to play, I’ll be ready,” Yonathan said at the inauguration of squad at the National Badminton Training Center in Cipayung, East Jakarta, on Tuesday.

Markis said he still occasionally felt pain in his knee but was ready to go nonetheless. He also said England, which led Indonesia 2-0 before losing 3-2 in the 2007 Sudirman Cup semifinals, would again be a tough opponent.

Indonesia lost the 2005 and 2007 finals 3-0 to China. It has lost six successive finals — two to Korea and four to China — since winning the inaugural Sudirman Cup in 1989.

This year’s tournament will also be the first for women’s doubles shuttler Shendy Puspa Irawati. Shendy and partner Meiliana Jauhari will lead the way in women’s doubles for Indonesia as the No. 1 pair.

“This is my first time joining the national squad,” Shendy said. “I will do my best. Hopefully we get our first victory over Japan.”

In contrast, the Sudirman Cup is old hat for Nova Widianto. He will team up with Liliyana Natsir at mixed doubles as Indonesia’s oldest competitor gets ready for his fifth Sudirman Cup.

Part of the responsibility as a senior player, Nova said, is to keep the younger players focused. “As first-timers, they should be playing without pressure,” the Beijing Olympics silver medalist said.

Mixed doubles will also be key to Indonesia’s hopes. Nova said he believed Indonesia could beat each of its group counterparts.

The numbers back up his assertion. Nova and Liliyana have tacked a number of victories against the top duos from those three countries, including China’s top pair of He Hanbin and Yu Yang.


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