Malaysia assured of medal after reaching World Junior Mixed Team semi-finals

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia have finally restored some pride in international badminton by reaching the semi-finals of the World Junior Mixed Team Championships in the United States yesterday.

Malaysia defeated India 3-0 at The Podium in Spokane, Washington, assuring themselves of at least a bronze in the prestigious tournament, also known as the Suhandinata Cup.

This will be Malaysia's eighth podium finish since the team event was introduced in the 2000 edition.

After returning to the podium for the first time since 2017, Malaysia will aim to go one step further and try to reach their fifth final. They will take on 13-time champions China this evening (approximately 8am, Saturday in Malaysia).

Malaysia won the title in 2011 and were runners-up in 2009, 2016, and 2017.

Regardless of the outcome, the team, led by Eogene Ewe and Ong Xin Yee, deserve commendation. They overcame immense pressure to deliver the nation's first significant achievement in major junior competitions since a disappointing run in 2019.

The nation's top boys' singles and girls' singles played crucial roles in securing the emphatic win against a strong Indian side. They clinched the second and third points after Bryan Jeremy Goonting-Chan Wen Tse triumphed in the opening mixed doubles match against Sathwik Reddy Kanapuram-Vaishnavi Khadkekar, 21-12, 21-16.

Eogene fended off a tough challenge from Ayush Shetty, winning 21-18, 16-21, 21-16, while Xin Yee rose to the occasion, defeating Devika Sihag 18-21, 21-16, 21-14.

Acting junior development director Joanne Quay hailed the players' exceptional performances, praising them for showing true grit despite recent adversities, which led to the dismissal of Datuk Misbun Sidek as the junior team's supremo.

While a favourable draw has certainly been advantageous, Joanne believes that the successful campaign thus far would not have been possible without the players' strong determination.

Malaysia were fortunate to have avoided heavyweights like China and Indonesia in the quarter-finals.

"Yes, the luck of the draw played a role, but the players truly excelled this week. They were immensely determined to prove a point," said Joanne, who was also a world junior champion herself, winning the mixed doubles title with Chan Chong Ming in 1998.

"However, India are also a quality team. They have depth, and it wasn't easy for us to anticipate their lineup.

"Kudos to the coaches as well. They observed the final group match between India and Germany, paying close attention to every detail. Their observations assisted them in anticipating India's lineup.

"From there, both players and coaches reviewed video recordings and analysed the matches. That strategy was pivotal to our victory."

With their confidence bolstered, Joanne has promised that the players will take the game to favourites China, who defeated reigning Asian junior champions Japan 3-1 in another quarter-final clash.

The other semi-final features Indonesia and Taiwan, who defeated France 3-1 and Thailand 3-2, respectively.

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