Indonesia eyeing Thomas Cup victory

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Indonesian Thomas Cup team captain Hendra Setiawan kisses Indonesia's national flag before departing to China for the 2016 Thomas & Uber Cup finals. ( Antara/Prasetyo Utomo)

Jakarta: Indonesia’s Thomas Cup team dreams big as it locks its target on bringing home the trophy again after its last victory in 2002 at the upcoming Thomas and Uber Finals team competition, starting this weekend.Indonesian Thomas Cup team captain Hendra Setiawan kisses Indonesia's national flag before departing to China for the 2016 Thomas & Uber Cup finals. ( Antara/Prasetyo Utomo)

The squad nonetheless received no intensified training regime on account of efforts to earn points for the Summer Olympics.

“Winning the Thomas Cup is our aim. I’m not putting pressure [on the team], but historically we’ve won it 13 times.

“Besides, in India [the men’s team] managed to tackle Japan,” Rexy Mainaky, sports development head for the Indonesian Badminton Association ( PBSI ), told a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.

Rexy was referring to the 2016 Badminton Asia Team Championships in Hyderabad, India, in mid-February, during which Indonesia knocked out Japan 3-2 to win the event. The Indian victory boosted team morale ahead of the finals, which will run on May 15-22 in Kunshan, Jiangsu, China.

Amid high expectations, Rexy said that the men’s shuttlers did not undergo special training as they had participated in a number of Super Series-grade tournaments in their pursuit of points for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in August.

Super Series tournaments taking place after Hyderabad were the All England, where Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto won the mixed doubles division; India Super Series ( Markus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo won the men’s doubles division ); Malaysia Open ( Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir won mixed doubles ); Singapore Open ( Sony Dwi Kuncoro nailed the men’s singles, Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari were awarded the women’s doubles title ); and, Badminton Asia Championships in China ( Tontowi and Liliyana finished as runners-up in mixed doubles ).

“[The shuttlers] are 100 percent ready [although they] didn’t have much time [for focused grooming] as they were busy with the tournaments,” said Rexy, adding that getting in a quick recovery was more important for the shuttlers in between events.

In the finals, Indonesia’s men’s team sits in Group B along with India, Hong Kong and Thailand. Indonesia is the top-seed in the group.

Meanwhile, the Uber team has been a given a realistic aim in the Kunshan showdown: reaching the quarterfinals.

“I’m not underestimating the Uber team. Facing Thailand is a tough task,” said Rexy.

The Indonesian women’s squad is in Group C along with the group’s top-seed Thailand, Hong Kong and Bulgaria.

“It will be good enough for us if we can be a runner-up in the group and advance to the quarterfinals,” said Rexy, manager of the Indonesian Thomas and Uber teams.

 Indonesia’s Uber team experienced peak play when it won the event in 1989. Since then, the team has only made it to runner-up position in 1991, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2007.

The strongest Uber team is China with 10 victories between 1995 and 2015. Greysia will be paired with Tiara Rosalia Nuraidah as Nitya is injured.

“As a new pair, we surely will have flaws. But on the other hand, opponents are blind to our strength,” said team captain Greysia.

In the meantime, 10 Indonesian shuttlers have secured spots in the Summer Olympics. They are Tommy Sugiarto in men’s singles, Lindaweni Fanetri in women’s singles, Hendra Setiawan and Muhammad Ahsan in men’s doubles, Greysia and Nitya in women’s doubles, Tontowi and Liliyana as well as Praveen and Debby in mixed doubles.

— Niken Prathivi, Jakarta Post

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