All pumped up: (from left) Lai Pei Jing, BAM technical director Morten Frost, Tan Kian Meng and Goh Jin Wei posing for a photograph after the draw for the Sudirman Cup yesterday. — NORAFIFI EHSAN / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia are confident they can win the Sudirman Cup for the first time after being handed a favourable draw.
Fifth seeds Malaysia have been drawn in Group C of the world mixed team event with fourth seeds Japan and England.
The draw for the badminton championship, to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, from May 21-28 was conducted at a leading hotel here yesterday.
Top seeds and defending champions China, who are gunning for their 11th Sudirman Cup title, are in Group A with Thailand and Hong Kong.
Second seeds Denmark are in Group D with Indonesia and India while third seeds South Korea are in Group B with Taiwan and Russia.
Malaysia have only made the semi-finals once – in 2009 – in 14 previous editions of the Sudirman Cup but BAM technical director Morten Frost believes that the national team are capable of winning it this year.
“It’s quite an interesting draw ... rather favourable to us,” said Frost.
“I do feel that this year’s Sudirman Cup will be quite an open affair as many countries are rebuilding their teams after the Olympics last year.
“China will still start as favourites but since they are the ones doing the most rebuilding, they should be a bit more vulnerable this time.
“I believe that this is the first time in a long while that we actually have a chance of winning. Our men’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles departments are pretty strong.
“It’s important that we start strongly by topping our group in so we can get the best possible draw in the quarter-finals.
“Japan will be a nice challenge ... they are strong in women’s singles and doubles but I believe we have enough depth to get past them.”
Japan can count on women’s singles world No. 3 Akane Yamaguchi and women’s doubles pair Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi, who are the world No. 1 and reigning Olympic gold medallists.
Malaysia will bank on world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei (men’s singles), world No. 2 Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and world No. 6 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles) to deliver the goods.