Good BATC draw for Malaysian men's shuttlers

KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Malaysia are relieved to avoid Thomas Cup champions India in the group stage of the Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) next month.

Following the draw today, hosts Malaysia are in Group B alongside Taiwan, Kazakhstan and Brunei for the team meet on Feb 13-18 at the Setia City Convention Centre.

India, boasting the likes of world No. 1 men's doubles and Asian Games gold medallists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty, as well as Asian Games bronze medallist H. S. Prannoy, are in Group A with top seeds China and Hong Kong.

As the BATC offers valuable Olympic ranking points, teams like India and South Korea have decided to come with strong lineups.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Rexy Mainaky said the competition this year will be way stiffer than it was two years ago, when Malaysia thrashed Indonesia 3-0 in the final to clinch their maiden BATC crown.

The Indonesian former world and Olympic champion admitted it is good to avoid teams like India and South Korea as early as the group stage.

It is, however, important to note that Malaysia can still face any of these strong teams in the last eight, when a fresh draw is conducted for the knockout stage.

"It is true, looking at the squads, India are very strong but teams like South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and even Taiwan, who is in our group can go on to win the title.

"The competition this year will be very tough, but we have a reasonable draw for the group stages."

Earlier, after the draw ceremony, Rexy made it known that he had urged the Malaysian shuttlers to step up and redeem themselves at the BATC, following their disappointing performances at the Petronas Malaysia Open early January.

"Since the BATC is played on home soil, I told the players to focus and use this competition to regain their pride after their poor showing at the Malaysia Open," added Rexy.

Meanwhile, in the women's team event, Malaysia, who reached the semi-finals at the previous edition, have their work cut out for them after being drawn in Group Y with Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

The BATC acts as also the

Asian qualifier for the

Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in April this year.

Teams that reach the semi-finals will secure their place for the world men's and women's team championships in Chengdu on April 27-May 5.

The BATC draw:

Men's Group A - China, India, Hong Kong.

Group B - Malaysia, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Brunei.

Group C - Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar.

Group D - Indonesia, South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia.

Women's Group W - China, India.

Group X - Indonesia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan.

Group Y - Thailand, Malaysia, UAE.

Group Z - Japan, Taiwan, Singapore.

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