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Tigers fall, Indonesia rejoice

Malaysia suffered double heartache on Sunday as their top team Tigers and their back-up squad Leopards both suffered defeats to Indonesian teams at the inaugural Axiata Cup, the world’s richest badminton team championship.

The biggest shock came from Kuala Lumpur where Indonesia Rajawali stunned Malaysia Tigers 2-1 to top Group K.

With this victory, Indonesia Rajawali will now play Malaysia Leopards in the first leg of the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur with the return leg in Jakarta on Sunday.

The Malaysia Tigers will take on Indonesia Garuda in Jakarta on Friday with the return leg in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

Despite the defeat, Malaysia Tigers captain, Lee Chong Wei, who sat out the preliminary rounds with a right shoulder injury is confident they can upset the odds in the semi-finals.

“It doesn’t matter that we lost today as I’m confident we can still go to Jakarta and beat the Garuda team,” said the world No. 1, who could be back in action for the semi-finals.

Indonesia Rajawali went ahead when Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka overcame an opening game loss to beat the fast-tiring Hafiz Hashim 16-21, 21-18, 21-10.

“I wasn’t feeling well before the match and playing three days in a row took its toll on me,” said Hafiz.

“I tried to go for a straight games win but Rumbaka countered and attacked more in the second game and I just ran out of gas.”

The young pair of Angga Pratama-Ryan Agung Saputra then played out of their skins to beat former world No. 1s Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (above), 10-21, 21-18, 21-13.

In the dead rubber, Liew Daren gave Malaysia Tigers their only point when he beat Shesar Hiren Rhustavito 21-19, 21-13.

In Jakarta, Indonesia Garuda confirmed their status as the tournament favourites when they took top spot in Group J.

Taufik Hidayat (right), the 2004 Olympic and 2005 world champion was first on the court, but took a while to warm-up before beating Misbun Ramdan Misbun 15-21, 21-5, 21-10.

The Indonesians next fielded a scratch pair consisting of Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan and they too good for former world junior champions Teo Ee Yi-Nelson Heg Wei Keat, winning 21-7, 21-15.

Sony Dwi Kuncoro then wrapped up the tie by beating Iskandar Zulkarnain 21-19, 21-12.

Malaysian coach, Hendrawan took a lot way from the match, even though it ended in defeat for his young guns.

“Malaysia have two teams and decided to out all their young players in one team. Most of them are Under-21 as we want them to get as much experience as much as they can and the Axiata Cup is perfect for that,” said the former Indonesian international.

“Our long-term target is to prepare for the 2016 Olympics with the short-term target being next year’s SEA Games. The challenge is to look for tournaments for them to play in.”

For more information on the tournament, please click here.

Group J
Indonesia Garuda 3 Malaysia Leopards (Taufik Hidayat bt Misbun Ramdan Misbun 15-21, 21-5, 21-10; Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan bt Teo Ee Yi-Nelson Heg Wei Keat 21-7, 21-15; Sony Dwi Kuncoro bt Iskandar Zulkarnain 21-19, 21-12)

Singapore 2 Vietnam  1 (Robin Gonansa lost Nguyen Tien Minh 8-21, 9-21; Terry Yeo-Yi Liu bt Nguyen Hoang Hai-Duong Bao Duc 21-14, 21-7; Huang Chao bt Nguyen Hoang Nam 21-13, 21-11)

Group K
Thailand 3 Philippines 0 (Boonsak Ponsana bt Paul Jefferson Vivas 21-8, 21-12; Maneepong Jongjit-Nipithon Phuangphuapet bt Mathias Boe-Ronel Estanislao 21-18, 20-22, 21-12; Suppanyu Avihingsanon bt Antonio Benjamin Gadi 21-13, 21-15)

Indonesia Rajawali 2 Malaysia Tigers 1 (Hayom Rumbaka bt Hafiz Hashim 16-21, 21-18, 21-10; Angga Pratama-Ryan Agung Saputra bt Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong 10-21, 21-18, 21-13; Shesar Hiren Rhustavito lost Liew Daren 19-21, 13-19)

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