Indonesia Relishes Chance to Study Foes
Jakarta. Indonesia wasn’t in competition when the Sudirman Cup, the world badminton team championships, kicked off in Dongguan, China, on Sunday, instead using the opportunity to study its group opponents.
“It’s good to know we have the chance to watch our group opponents play against each other in the opener,” said Rexy Mainaky, the head of athlete development at the Indonesian Badminton Association, or PBSI. “We can learn how they have improved, which is good for our strategy to face each of them.”
Indonesia has been drawn with Denmark and England in the group stage of the event.
Indonesia will face England on Monday in the first test of a new-look squad that mixes former world champions with young shuttlers competing at their first senior-level tournament.
All eyes are expected to be on the women’s doubles and men’s singles players.
Once considered the weak link in the Indonesian side, the women’s doubles players have slowly emerged as a force in their own right, highlighted last year by Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari winning the gold medal at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
They are joined by Anggia Shitta Awanda and Della Destiara Haris, who showed plenty of promise to beat top-ranked Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua of China en route to the quarterfinals of last year’s World Championships.
The men’s singles players, meanwhile, have attracted attention for a whole different reason. Despite having three players in the top 40, the PBSI opted to go with three teen shuttlers — the highest-ranked of them being Jonatan Christie, the world number 63.
“I feel a bit nervous. But I’ll keep in mind what veteran Christian Hadinata said: that your teammates may lose their matches, but not you,” Jonatan, 17, said last week.
Teammate Firman Abdul Kholik, also 17 and ranked 72nd, relished the chance to play in his first ever senior team event.
“Now I’m one of the Sudirman Cup team members. Hard to believe and it feels like a dream, but I’ll take it as a challenge in my career as a shuttler. I’ll carry the responsibility and show people that I’m a future star by playing at my best,” he said last week.
The third men’s singles player, Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, 19 and ranked 86th, already has some experience, having played in last year’s Thomas Cup.
Source: The Jakarta Globe