Under-fire Korea storm into badminton Thomas Cup quarters


JAKARTA (AFP) — South Korea fielded its strongest side to whip minnows Canada and storm into the Thomas Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday, a day after throwing its group games to win a more favourable draw.

The Korean tactics, which sparked controversy and forced the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to admit the rules needed changing, worked as planned to line up a knockout round match against Denmark.

Thailand, Japan, and England joined them in the last eight of the elite team championships, while the Netherlands, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Germany booked their places in the same phase of the women's Uber Cup.

In contrast to their group games against England and Malaysia where they either left out their top singles players Park Sung-Hwan and Lee Hyun-Il or played them in doubles, it was a full-strength South Korea against Canada.

Park crushed Andrew Dabeka 21-11, 21-11 while Lee easily beat Bobby Milroy 21-15, 21-18, with doubles pairing Jung Jae-Sung/Lee Yong-Dae also winning to seal the match.

The Koreans admitted on Monday they plotted to finish their group last to avoid defending champions China until at least the final. It meant they played the elimination match against Canada to set up a clash with Denmark.

"We wanted teams to play at least three ties and there were no complaints until now," BWF deputy president Punch Gunalan said in explaining the format that allows even the last placed group team to make the quarter-finals.

"However with the latest development, we now need to sit and talk about changing the format."

The Thai men ran out easy winners over New Zealand in their elimination game but that may be as far as they get with the daunting presence of China awaiting them next.

Boonsak Ponsana got the ball rolling, carving out a 21-11, 21-11 victory over John Moody with Poompat Sapkulchananart and Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk also winning their singles rubbers to make the doubles matches irrelevant.

Japan produced an epic performance to scrape past Germany 3-2, coming back from 2-1 down with Kenichi Tago defeating Marcel Reuter 21-19, 21-15 in the decisive fifth game.

It set them up for a last eight meeting with Malaysia, led by world number two Lee Chong Wei.

England beat Nigeria 3-0 and now face hosts Indonesia, who are tipped to meet China in the final.

In Uber Cup action, the Netherlands piled on the misery for New Zealand with a 3-0 victory to set up a clash against the invincible Chinese in the quarter-finals.

China, who have won the tournament 10 times and are red-hot favourite to retain the title, received a bye to the last eight.

Malaysia scored a memorable 3-0 over Japan, considered one of the better teams in the competition, to set up a quarter-final showdown against South Korea.

"We are all very, very happy. The last 16 is special," said Julia Wong Pei Xian, who clinched the all-important rubber over Yu Hirayama.

Hong Kong were too good for the United States in their elimination round clash to set up a quarter-final against Indonesia, while Germany beat South Africa and will next play Denmark.


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