KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 – The Energia Areeena in Vantaa, Finland witnessed the tremendous fighting spirit, guts and determination of the young Malaysian team upset all odds to defeat Indonesia 3-2 in a nail biting quarter-final tie on Friday.
With the win the Malaysians earned a rematch with Japan for a place in the final. The semi-final match will be played at the same venue at 9pm (Malaysian time) on Saturday (Oct 2). Japan defeated Malaysia 4-1 to finish on top in Group D.
This is only the second time Malaysia has reached the last four in the mixed team championships. Their last appearance in the semi-finals was in Guangzhou, China in 2009.
The win over Indonesia will be remembered by many of the young players, especially World No 8 Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik who once again showed that their win over World No 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo at the Tokyo Olympics was no flash in the pan.
The Tokyo Olympics bronze medal winners stormed to a straight games 21-12, 21-15 win in only 33 minute – a win that boosted the morale of the Malaysian camp.
S. Kisona, the reigning Sea Games champion, lost her third singles match in Vantaa but this time she gave a much better performance taking World 21 ranked Gregoria Mariska Tunjung to three games in her 20-22, 21-18, 19-21 defeat in a match that lasted 67 minutes.
With the tie standing at 1-1 it was All-England champion Lee Zii Jia (World No 8) who gave a sterling performance to make it 2-1 for Malaysia.
The Malaysian, having lost his previous three encounters against the fifth ranked Anthony Ginting stunned the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal winner in straight game for a 21-11, 21-16 win.
The confidence grew for the women’s doubles. Malaysia’s Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah took the court with the odds against them as they were facing Tokyo Olympic champions, the experienced Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu.
They fought tooth and nail against the mighty Indonesian pair but experience allowed the Indonesians squeeze a 20-22, 21-17, 18-21 win in a marathon 91-minute match that had everyone on the edge of their seats. It was Indonesia 2, Malaysia 2.
The last match of the night was the mixed doubles that Indonesia was expected to win through the fourth ranked pair of the Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti in the tie decider against 27th ranked Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See.
“We were the underdogs and had nothing to lose. However, with our teammates cheering us on we determined and let the reputation of our opponents stand in the way,” said Pang Ron as the Malaysians carved out a 21-19, 9-21, 21-16 win over the Indonesians.
The 61-minute match brought the best out of the Malaysians but Badminton Association of Malaysia coaching director Wong Choong Hann was quick to say “It’s sweet win for a place in the semi-finals but there is a lot more to be learnt.
“We will continue with the hard work we have been putting in. It’s certainly a big win for the team ,” said the former international.
Malaysia celebrated while Indonesia was left crestfallen.