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OUTCLASSED: Doubles stumble as Darren salvages a point
MALAYSIA Tigers will be facing an uphill task against Indonesia Garuda in the semi-finals of the Axiata Cup after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat to Indonesia Rajawali at KLBA Stadium in Cheras yesterday.
Garuda, who defeated Malaysia Leopards 3-0 in Jakarta, will play against Tigers at home on Friday while the the return leg of the semi-finals will be held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Leopards will play Rajawali in Kuala Lumpur on the first leg of the semi-finals and will travel to Jakarta on Sunday for the second leg.
Lee Chong Wei's absence due to a shoulder injury was sorely felt against Rajawali as Hafiz Hashim suffered a 16-21, 21-18, 21-10 defeat to Dionisius Hayom Rumbaka.
Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong dished out another poor performance and lost 10-21, 21-18, 21-13 to Angga Pratama-Rian Agung Saputro to give Rajawali an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Liew Daren salvaged some pride when he defeated Shesar Hiren Rustavito 21-19, 21-13 but in the second singles.
However, Chong Wei said Malaysia Tigers is still optimistic of turning the tables on Indonesia Garuda although he is still unsure of playing in the last four on Friday.
"We may have lost to Rajawali here today (yesterday) but we can still go to Jakarta and beat Garuda," said Chong Wei.
Chong Wei's recovery from the injury will be evaluated later this week by Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz before he receives the greenlight to play against Garuda in the first leg of the semi-finals against Garuda.
In the earlier match held in Jakarta, Leopards had a learning experience when they played Garuda consisting Indonesia's senior shuttlers.
Misbun Ramdan Misbun even shocked Taufik Hidayat in the first game but the former Olympic champion bounced back to win 15-21, 21-5, 21-10 to give Garuda the lead.
Scratch pair Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan were too strong for world junior champions Nelson Heg-Teo Ee Yi and secured a 21-7, 21-15 win while Sony Dwi Kuncoro completed the rout when he beat Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin 21-19, 21-12.
Ramdan, the son of former national coach Misbun Sidek, was happy that he managed to take a game off Taufik in their first meeting.
"This is my first time playing against Taufik. He's such an experienced player and this was very valuable experience for me," said Ramdan.
"I tried my best and I'm glad I won the first game. Taufik managed to read my style and in the second and third games, he managed to get the win."
National singles coach Hendrawan was also pleased with the overall performance of his young brigade and said the tournament is good exposure for his players.
Axiata Cup is the richest event in badminton offering US$1 million (RM3 million) total prize money where the winners take home US400,000 (RM1.2 million) while runners-up receive US200,000 (RM600,000). Losing semi-finalists will receive US100,000 (RM300,000) each while the four teams which failed to advance to the last four will take home US50,000 (RM150,000) each.
Results -- Group J: Indonesia Garuda 3 Malaysia Leopards 0 (Taufik Hidayat bt Misbun Ramdan Misbun 15-21, 21-5, 21-10; Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan bt Teo Ee Yi-Nelson Heg 21-7, 21-15; Sony Dwi Kuncoro bt Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin 21-19, 21-12).
Singapore 2 Vietnam 1 (Robin Gonansa lost to Nguyen Tien Minh 21-8, 21-9; 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: Indonesia Rajawali 2 Malaysia Tigers 1 (Dionisius Hayom Rumbaka bt Hafiz Hashim 16-21, 21-18, 21-13; Angga Pratama-Rian Agung Saputra bt Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong 10-21, 21-18, 21-13; Shesar Hiren Rustavito lost to Liew Daren 21-19, 21-13).
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).
Semi-final Fixtures, 1st Leg, Friday -- Malaysia Tigers v Indonesia Garuda (Jakarta); Malaysia Leopards v Indonesia Rajawali (Kuala Lumpur).
2nd Leg, Sunday -- Malaysia Tigers v Indonesia Garuda (Kuala Lumpur); Malaysia Leopards v Indonesia Rajawali (Jakarta).