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Badminton: Singapore to face powerhouses in Asia Mixed Team Championship

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SINGAPORE – The Republic have been handed an “unkind” draw for the Feb 14-19 Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championship held in Dubai.

On Wednesday, Singapore, seeded ninth, were drawn alongside defending champions China, South Korea and Uzbekistan in Group A.

They will be represented by Loh Kean Yew, Jason Teh, Terry Hee, Loh Kean Hean, Andy Kwek, Yeo Jia Min, Insyirah Khan, Crystal Wong, Jin Yujia and Jessica Tan.

Singapore Badminton Association technical director Martin Andrew said: “The draw hasn’t been really kind to us.

“Our seeding means we are always going to have two higher-ranked teams in our group. Uzbekistan are a developing team we don’t know much about. We will be wary of them but expect to be okay with that match, but it’s a pity that we got China and South Korea as other teams might have been better match-ups for us.

“To progress to the quarter-finals, we have to beat one of China and South Korea. China are Sudirman Cup hosts, and don’t have to send their strongest team for this tournament which also serves as a qualifier. Regardless, we will do our best to progress from our group.”

Singapore’s top player, men’s singles world No. 8 Loh Kean Yew added: “It’s not an easy draw, but I’m sure everyone in the team will give their best for all the matches when called upon.

“We look forward to mixed team championships like these as they are also good opportunities for the national team to bond and gain experience.”

This is the third edition of the tournament since its inception in 2017 when Japan were victorious in Vietnam. China won the 2019 edition in Hong Kong, where Singapore reached the last eight for its best finish. The 2021 edition – originally scheduled to be held in China – was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the other groups, hosts United Arab Emirates are in Group B alongside Malaysia, India, and Kazakhstan. Group C comprises Indonesia, Thailand, Bahrain, Syria and Lebanon while Group D features Japan, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Pakistan.

India’s women’s singles world No. 9 P. V. Sindhu was more pleased with the draw, and said: “We have been handed a favourable draw. I hope we can put up a strong show at the event. We have some of the best men’s singles players in H. S. Prannoy and Lakshya Sen and doubles teams as well. We are confident of a good show.”

UAE Badminton Federation president Noura Aljasmi added: “It’s very exciting for our young team to be part of this prestigious championship. I think we have got a decent draw, and this will be a good opportunity for our players to learn from the best in the world. The players will also be excited to play on their home turf.”

Meanwhile, at the Thailand Masters, Singapore’s world No. 19 mixed doubles pair Hee and Tan suffered a first-round upset when they lost 21-12, 18-21, 21-19 to Chinese Taipei’s Chiu Hsiang-Chieh and Lin Xiao-min.

In the women’s singles, world No. 79 Insyirah was also beaten 21-10, 14-21, 21-15 by Thailand’s 25th-ranked Supanida Katethong.

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