THE Malaysian women’s team’s aspirations to become the first national side to qualify for the Uber Cup semi-finals suffered a serious jolt when they went down 2-3 to Denmark in their final Group Y tie at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta yesterday.
Failing to top the group, the Malaysians, who are the fourth seeds, go into the same half of the knockout phase as the top three seeds – China, Japan and South Korea.
Malaysia, who beat New Zealand 5-0 on Sunday, will take on Japan today for a place in the quarter-finals. The Koreans are in the same quarter and the odds are heavily stacked against Malaysia advancing further.
Indonesia, who stunned Japan 3-2 on Sunday to top Group Z, and Denmark, the Group Y champions, are now the favourites to progress to the semi-finals from the bottom half of the draw.
Against the Danes, national number one Wong Mew Choo failed to give Malaysia a flying start – going down fighting to an in-form Tine Rasmussen 21-19, 19-21, 14-21.
After storming back from 12-19 down to take the first game, Mew Choo matched her opponent point for point up till 19-19 in the second but was not mentally strong enough to close out the match.
In the rubber, the world number 10 ranked Malaysian's challenge faded away after the court changeover at 8-11 as the world number five Dane stepped up a gear.
Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty pulled Malaysia back into contention with a superb 22-20, 21-16 win over the much taller Kamilla Rytter Juhl-Marie Ropke.
The decisive blow for Malaysia came in the second singles when Julia Wong failed to live up to expectations. She could not keep her composure against Nanna Brosolat Jensen and went down 21-13, 19-21, 19-21 in a 65-minute battle.
After taking the first game easily, Julia was rattled by the noise from the home fans, who turned their attention to the Malaysia-Denmark tie after their team completed the tie against Germany on the adjacent court.
The Indonesian crowd jeered at every single mistake committed by Julia. It threw Julia off rhythm.
It was the same for the Lim Pek Siah-Ng Hui Lin pair, who had to face both their opponents Christinna Pedersen-Mie Schott Kristensen and the hostile Indonesian crowd.
The Malaysians failed to prevent Denmark from clinching the winning point, losing 18-21, 18-21 in 38 minutes.
Teenager Lydia Cheah lent some respectability to the final score line by defeating Camilla Sorensen 21-11, 21-14.
“I am sad that we failed to top our group,” said skipper Pek Siah.
“But all credit to Denmark for playing well. Although we face a tougher route now and have to play Japan tomorrow, we are not out of the competition yet and need to stay positive. The unity and team spirit among the players are still strong.”
Her rookie partner, Hui Lin, dismissed claims that they were rattled by the crowd.
“It was not the main reason for our defeat. I do not pay much attention to anything outside the court during a match. I don't know why the Indonesian crowd turned against us. Perhaps they were afraid of their team meeting us in the knockout phase,” she said.
Japan finished at the bottom of Group Z after losing to Holland 2-3 yesterday.