PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian junior badminton team put up a sizzling performance to beat Japan 3-1 to reach the mixed team semi-finals of the World Junior Championships for the first time at the Incheon Gymnasium in South Korea yesterday.
Their previous best achievement was recorded in Vancouver two years ago when they finished fifth overall.
Yesterday, the Malaysian team clinched victory from the two singles and boy's doubles matches.
Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, the younger brother of national doubles player Mohd Zakry Latif, started the ball rolling when he stunned Asian Juniors champion Kenichi Tago 22-20, 21-18.
Kenichi is the top seed for the boy's singles individual event starting on Monday.
Asian Juniors runner-up Lydia Cheah put Malaysia two up when she edged Megumi Taruno 21-13, 18-21, 21-15.
Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun earned the winning point for Malaysia when they beat Takuma Ueda-Hiromu Sasaki 21-14, 21-16.
Malaysian manager How Kim Tho said they had been banking on Mohd Arif to pull off an upset.
“Mohd Arif played an outstanding role. If he had lost, the team would have been under huge pressure then,” said Kim Tho in a telephone interview from Incheon yesterday.
Defending champions South Korea now await the Malaysian youngsters in the semi-finals today.
The other semi-final tie will see second seeds China taking on third seeds Indonesia.
MIXED TEAM RESULTS
GROUP B1: Malaysia bt Taiwan 4-1 (Mohd Arif Abdul Latif bt Lu Chi-yuan 21-11, 21-18; Lydia Cheah bt Hung Shih-han 16-21, 21-8, 21-8; Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun bt Chen Ping-min-Hsiao Hsiang-chun 21-12, 21-15; Woon Khe Wei-Goh Liu Ying bt Hsieh Pei-chen-Lee Tai-an 21-13, 18-21, 22-20; Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei lost to Hsieh Pei-chen-Lao Wei-cheng 19-21, 18-21).
PLAY-OFFS: Malaysia bt Japan 3-1 (Mohd Arif Abdul Latif bt Kenichi Tago 22-20, 21-18; Lydia Cheah bt Megumi Taruno 21-13, 18-21, 21-15; Woon Khe Wei-Goh Liu Ying lost to Mizuki Fujii-Reika Kakiiwa 12-21, 17-21; Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun bt Takuma Ueda-Hiromu Sasaki 21-14, 21-16); South Korea bt India 3-0; Indonesia bt Singapore 3-1; China bt Thailand 3-0.