PETALING JAYA: Malaysia shuttlers have endured their worst-ever outing in the mixed team event of the Asian Junior Championships.
For the first time since its inception in 2006, Malaysia failed to get past the group stage after they lost both their Group A encounters to Indonesia (0-5) and Japan (2-3) in Suzhou, China yesterday.
It was a daunting task from the start when ninth-seeded Malaysia found themselves on the same path alongside top seeds Indonesia and sixth seeds Japan.
Knowing that Indonesia would be a tough nut to crack, head coach Kwan Yoke Meng fielded a weakened side as they focused on the “winnable” match against Japan, which was held barely hours later.
But the gamble backfired.
Hopes were high on the boys’ doubles of Lwi Sheng Hao-Ooi Jhy Dar to give Malaysia a winning start but they lost 18-21, 21-16, 19-21 to Yoshifumi Fijisawa-Kakeru Kumagai.
National Under-16 girls’ singles champion K. Letshanaa (pic) was outclassed 9-21, 13-21 by Riko Gunji for Japan to double the lead.
Kok Jing Hong did well to salvage a point in his 21-18, 21-16 victory over Riku Hatano but Go Pei Kee-Teoh Le Xuan could not stop Japan from sealing the third point for an unassailable lead in the girls’ doubles.
Rui Hirokami-Mizuki Otake proved too hot too handle as they won 21-17, 21-11.
Mixed doubles pair Yap Roy King-Gan Jing Err lived up to expectations to edge Tsubasa Kawamura-Hinata Suzuki 17-21, 21-19, 21-14 but the match was nothing but a dead rubber.
Already assured of their places in the last eight, Japan and Indonesia will meet today to determined the group winners.
The Malaysians will now aim to bounce back in the individual competitions, which gets underway on Wednesday.
Malaysia are out to avoid returning home empty handed for the first time since 2015.