KUALA LUMPUR: Top seeds Malaysia on Sunday won a “favourable” draw in their attempt to qualify for the Thomas Cup finals to be played in Indonesia in May. “The draw looks favourable but we do not want to under estimate our opponents,” Kenny Goh, general manager of the Badminton Association of Malaysia told AFP. “Our objective is to be in Jakarta.” The Thomas Cup finals will be held from 11 to 18 May. Malaysia were drawn against Taiwan, the Philippines and Cambodia in Group A for the Asian qualifiers to be played in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from February 19 to 24. Goh said Malaysia, who last won the competition in 1992, will be led by world number two Lee Chong Wei, who will be joined by 15th ranked Wong Choong Hann and Hashim Muhammad Hafiz, ranked number 24. Second-seeded South Korea will take on Singapore and Vietnam in Group B and third-seed Japan will play India and Pakistan in Group C. Fourth seeds Hong Kong will play against Thailand, Sri Lanka and Macau in Group D.
South Korea is expected to be led by 12th ranked Park Sung-hwan and world number 14 Lee Hyun-ll. Lee won the men’s title in a grueling match with top-seeded Lin Dan of China in the Korean Open badminton tournament in January. In the Uber Cup Asia Zone qualifiers, top seeds Japan will face Thailand and Sri Lanka in Group W. South Korea will take on Singapore and Cambodia in Group X while Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam are in Group Y. Malaysia and India are the only two teams in Group Z. S. Selvam, administrative manager with the Badminton World Federation said in both tournaments, the top two teams from each group, after a round-robin, will qualify for the quarter-finals. In the Thomas Cup, four teams qualify for the Jakarta finals while in the Uber Cup, only the top three teams qualify automatically, he told AFP. Selvam said the team finishing fourth is compared with the fourth-placed team from the European qualifiers, adding that the higher ranking of the two, as of February 27, will then advance to the finals. afp