KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia have a good chance to erase the painful memory of last year by reaching the semi-finals of the mixed team event of the World Junior Cham-pionships, which willl be held in Pune, India, from Oct 24-Nov 2.
In the draw released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) yesterday, Malaysia are the fourth seeds and they are in Group X1 with the Czech Republic and Germany. In the quarter-finals, they are expected to play against Indonesia, who are drawn in Group X2.
If Malaysia advance to the semi-finals, they are set to clash against top seeds China, who are in Group W. In last year’s championships in Auckland, Malaysia were beaten by lower ranked Singapore in the quarter-finals.
The mixed team event in Pune is scheduled for Oct 24-29 followed by the individual competitions from Oct 30-Nov 2.
National coach Jeremy Gan said that Malaysia would be satisfied if they met their semi-final target in the mixed team event.
“I think we have a realistic shot of achieving this goal. We want to go one step better after losing in the quarter-finals last year,” he said. “We may meet Indonesia in the last eight. We do not know much about their strength but I think, we have a better shot of beating them.”
The Malaysian team comprise boys singles Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Kuan Kam Chung, Mohd Syawal Ismail and Goh Soon Huat; boys’ doubles Mak Hee Chun-Teo Kok Siang and Pang Zheng Lin-Chooi Kah Ming; girls’ singles Tee Jing Yee, Florah Ng Siew Fong, Tiffany Chase-Currier and Ng Sin Er; girls’ doubles Vivian Hoo, Sannatasah Saniru, Chong Vee Vian and Lai Pei Jing; and mixed doubles Hee Chun-Vivian, Kok Siang-Sannatasah and Zheng Lin-Vee Vian.
The coaches will decide on their line-up on the eve of every tie and they can bank on Asian juniors champions Hee Chun-Kok Siang to deliver at least one sure point.
Jeremy, however, said that the odds would be against Malaysia if they were to meet defending champions China in the last four.
“Two years ago (in Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia emerged as the Asian junior team champions for the first time. We did better than China and South Korea at the Asian level. Then, we had a more balanced team,” he said.
“This time, China have equal strength in their boys’ and girls’ departments. In fact, we only have fighting chances in the doubles events.”
Malaysia have yet to win a team title at the world junior championships.