Singapore shuttlers clinch rare Thomas Cup berth at Asia Team Championships

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew in action at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Selangor. (PHOTO: Badminton Asia/Facebook)
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew in action at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Selangor. (PHOTO: Badminton Asia/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Singapore's men's national badminton team finished joint-third at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Selangor, after narrowing losing 2-3 in their semi-final clash against defending champions Indonesia on Saturday (19 February).

However, they have already achieved something far more precious than their first-ever medal at the competition, as they have also booked a rare spot at this year's Thomas Cup, badminton's premier men's team competition.

All semi-finalists at this Asia Team Championships will earn a place at the Thomas Cup, which will be played in Thailand from 8 to 15 May. This will be just the third time that Singapore has qualified for the Cup, after previous achievements in 1986 and 2014.

The shuttlers had made the semi-finals after recovering from a 0-5 loss to Malaysia in their opening Group B tie on Wednesday to beat a second-string Japan side 3-2 on Thursday, and then thrash Kazakhstan 5-0 on Friday.

They still had to rely on the Malaysians defeating Japan in their final tie on Friday evening, and were made to sweat when the host nation fell behind 1-2 as second singles player Aidil Sholeh lost to Koo Takahashi. However, Malaysia managed to clinch the remaining two matches to eke out a 3-2 win, and allow Singapore to finish second in the group above Japan.

Held leads twice against Indonesians

Against Indonesia in the semi-finals, first singles player and reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew got Singapore off to a winning start, beating Chico Aura Dwi Kuncoro 21-17, 21-19.

However, Indonesia drew level at 1-1 as their first doubles pair of Leo Rolly Carnando and Daniel Marthin defeated Wesley Koh and Andy Kwek 21-16, 21-12.

In the second singles match, Jason Teh lost the first set but finished strongly to clinch Singapore's second point, beating Ikhsan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay 18-21, 21-8, 21-9 in 59 minutes.

Again, Indonesia clawed back in the doubles, as Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana proved too strong for Singapore's Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Terry Hee, winning 15-21, 21-11, 21-15.

It was left to Christian Adinata to clinch the winning point for the defending champions, as he defeated Joel Koh 21-11, 21-14 in 35 minutes to seal his side's place in Sunday's final.

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