Having won the matches it was supposed to win, Indonesia now has a choice on its hands.
It saw off Japan and England, both by 4-1 scores, to all but secure a place in the Sudirman Cup semifinals. Only a Japan upset of China, which would be a result utterly counter to the form book, would put Indonesia’s semifinal status in doubt.
If China wins, its Thursday fixture against Indonesia will only be to determine which team wins Group 1B and gets to face the 1A runner-up. Malaysia, Korea and Denmark are the favorites to advance from Group 1A after Hong Kong fell to 0-2.
Former top shuttlers Hariyanto Arbi and Ricky Ahmad Soebagdja suggested Indonesia give the young shuttlers, who carried it past Japan, an opportunity to take their shot against the dominant force in world badminton.
“The most important thing is to qualify for the semifinals, and I don’t think it’s necessary to push for a win against China,” Hariyanto said on Monday. “It’d be better to give young shuttlers a chance to gain experience by playing a big team like China.”
Hariyanto, who represented Indonesia at the 1995, 1997 and 1999 Sudirman Cups, said the experience gained against China would help the young guns in the long run. “It is the women’s divisions, both singles and doubles, that are still Indonesia’s weakness,” he added.
Women’s singles has been a sore spot for Indonesia since the end of the Susi Susanti era. Susi was a five-time world champion (1990-94) who won gold at the 1996 Olympics and was part of Indonesia’s Sudirman Cup-winning side in 1989.
Indonesia’s plan to run out younger players got off to a shaky start against England. Mohammad Ahsan and Bona Septano blew one match point and lost 21-11, 18-21, 24-22 to England’s Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark.
Despite that, men’s doubles coach Sigit Pamungkas said it was a good experience. “It was their first match in a team event for the country, so they were bit groggy,” Sigit said. “But that’s a good experience for them because now they know what it’s like to play for the country in a team event.”
Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir, the only shuttlers retained from the Japan match, rounded out the evening with a 21-15, 21-10 defeat of Anthony Clark and Donna Kellog.
Photo: Simon Santoso of Indonesia was in fine form on Monday night, defeating Andrew Smith of England 21-15, 21-14 in their Sudirman Cup men’s singles match at the Guangzhou Gymnasium in China. (Zarqoni, Antara)