TAMED: Malaysians bow out to Indonesia in semi-finals
IT was an anti-climax ending for Malaysia Tigers' Axiata Cup campaign as they rested all their seniors, including Lee Chong Wei, and succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to Indonesia Garuda in the second leg of the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Tigers needed Chong Wei to have any hopes of beating Garuda, who had won the first leg 2-1, but the player decided not to risk aggravating his shoulder injury.
Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Hafiz Hashim were also not fielded and it was a forgone conclusion even before the match started.
Liew Daren found the going tough against Simon Santoso and lost 21-11, 21-14 while Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah were beaten 24-22, 22-20 by Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan.
Taufik Hidayat handed Arif Latif a 21-10, 21-7 thrashing to end Tigers' misery in the tournament.
Malaysia Leopards had earlier lost 3-0 to Indonesia Rajawali in Jakarta to end their campaign in the semi-finals.
Tigers and Leopards took home US$100,000 (RM300,000) each as the losing semi-finalists.
Garuda will meet Rajawali in the two-leg finals in Jakarta on April 13-15 where the champions will earn US$400,000 (RM1.2 million) while the runners-up will receive US$200,000 (RM600,000).
National singles coach Rashid Sidek was disappointed but said it was an uphill task as the senior shuttlers were not available.
"We are disappointed, but there was nothing we could do but leave out our senior players. Without Chong Wei and other seniors, there was no way we are going to beat Garuda," said Rashid.
"However, it was a good exposure for Daren and Arif who will take over from the seniors in future."
Taufik said the timing of the tournament was good for Indonesia as they can use it as a warm-up before the Thomas Cup Finals in May.
"Our aim is for both teams from Indonesia to reach the final and we have done it. This event is part of our preparation for the Thomas Cup," said Taufik.
"It is going to be close between us. Rajawali can perform well but as the more experienced team, Garuda will win the Axiata Cup. That's our aim.
"The tournament is a good start and what is lacking is the promotional activities. People need to know more about Axiata Cup and more promotional activities must be done so that it becomes popular in the coming years."
In Jakarta, Leopards put up a better fight despite losing 3-0 to Rajawali.
Misbun Ramdan Misbun forced Tommy Sugiarto to work hard for a 15-21, 21-17, 21-13 win which confirmed Rajawali's place in the final after their huge victory in KL.
Nelson Heg-Teo Ee Yi put up another fighting display against Angga Pratama-Rian Agung Saputra but went down 21-19, 23-21 which gave Rajawali an unassailable 2-0 lead.
The Leopards had rested Zulfadli Zulkifli, who fared poorly in the first leg, and his replacement Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin almost pulled off an upset over Dionisius Hayom Rumbaka in the second singles. Iskandar let slip a 10-4 advantage in the deciding third game to lose 14-21, 21-17, 21-19 in an encounter that lasted almost 70 minutes.
RESULTS -- S-Finals 2nd leg: Indonesia Garuda 3 Malaysia Tigers 0 (Simon Santoso bt Liew Daren 21-11, 14; Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan bt Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem 24-22, 22-20; Taufik Hidayat bt Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif 21-10, 21-7).
S-Finals 2nd leg: Indonesia Rajawali 3 Malaysia Leopards 0 (Indonesians names first): Tommy Sugiarto bt Misbun Ramdan Misbun 15-21, 21-17, 21-13; Angga Pratama-Rian Agung Saputra bt Nelson Heg-Teo Ee Yi 21-19, 23-21; Dionisius Hayom Rumbaka bt Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin 14-21, 21-17, 21-19).