ASIAN JUNIOR BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
KUALA LUMPUR: Top seeds Malaysia lived dangerously before downing Japan 3-1 to book their place in the semi-finals of the mixed team event of the Asian Junior Badminton Championships at Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras yesterday.
The gritty Japanese side drew first blood in the quarter-finals tie when their mixed doubles pair of Tago Kenichi-Fujii Mizuki came from behind to beat Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei 19-21, 21-16, 21-18.
However, Bukit Jalil Sports School student Mohd Arif Latif sparked a comeback when he chalked up a 14-21, 22-20, 21-17 win over Veda Takuma in the boys' singles match.
Sukma girls' singles gold medallist Lydia Cheah then outsmarted Taruno Megumi to give Malaysia a 2-1 lead. The 17-year-old Kuala Lumpur born lass was on the verge of being forced to play rubber game after her rival led 19-15.
However, Lydia clawed back into contention and eventually paved the way for Malaysia with a 21-14, 22-20 victory.
The doubles pair of Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun sealed the tie when they laboured to a 21-17, 15-21, 22-20 win over Japan's Tago Kenichi-Matsumaru Kazuki.
Malaysia had defeated Pakistan 3-0 in their opening first round tie earlier in the day. The Malaysian team may have progressed to the last four but they will face an uphill task of making it to the final.
The juniors face a tactically fitter Chinese side in the semi-finals today while South Korea will take on Indonesia in the other tie.
Mohd Arif, the younger brother of national doubles player Mohd Zakry Latif, is determined to raise his game against China.
“I was feeling a lot of pressure because I had to win the match to ensure Malaysia's survival.
“I hope to polish up my strokes and cut down on the half-court attempts,” he added.
MIXED TEAM Quarter-finals
Malaysia bt Japan 3-1 (Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei lost to Tago Kenichi-Fujii Mizuki 21-19, 16-21, 18-21; Mohd Arif Latif bt Veda Takuma 14-21, 22-20, 21-17; Lydia Cheah bt Taruno Megumi 21-14, 22-20; Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun bt Tago Kenichi-Matsumaru Kazuki 21-17, 15-21, 22-20).
China bt North Korea 3-0 (Du Peng Yu bt Yu Ho-choi 21- 8, 21-7; Wang Yi Han bt Kim Ryon-mi 21-6, 21-12; Hu Wen Qing-Liao Jing Mei bt Ri Un-nam-Kim Mi-hyang walkover).
Indonesia bt Hong Kong 3-0 (Wishnu Haryo Putro bt Wong Shu Ki 21-16, 21-11; Aprilia Yuswandari bt ChanTsz Ka 19-21, 21-14, 21-15; Fernando Kurniawan-Subakti bt Wong Shu Ki-Lau Chi Yin 21-16, 21-12).
South Korea bt Taiwan 3-0 (Choi Sang-won bt Cheng Ching-hung 15-21, 21-19, 21-15; Kim Moon-mi bt Choo Yu-ting 21-9, 21-19; Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Hyun-hong bt Liao Min-chun-Hsieh Pei-chen 21-10, 21-19).
First round: Taiwan bt Sri Lanka 3-0; Hong Kong bt Philippines 3-0; Indonesia bt India 3-0; South Korea bt Thailand 3-0; China bt Singapore 3-0; Japan bt Vietnam 3-0; Malaysia bt Pakistan 3-0; North Korea bt Kazakhstan 3-1.
Semi-finals (9am): Malaysia vs China, South Korea vs Indonesia.