Badminton: Indonesia plot Thomas Cup success in May after shocking China to win Asian team title

Indonesia's doubles pair Muhammad Ahsan (left) and Angga Pratama celebrating during their match at the Badminton Asia Team Championships on Feb 11, 2018.
Indonesia's doubles pair Muhammad Ahsan (left) and Angga Pratama celebrating during their match at the Badminton Asia Team Championships on Feb 11, 2018. PHOTO: PBSI VIA THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Defending champions Indonesia defeated favourites China 3-1 to claim the Badminton Asia Team Championships men's title on Sunday (Feb 11), but their coach Herry Iman Pierngadi is already planning how to conquer the Thomas Cup in May.

It was a remarkable but deserved victory for the Indonesians, who demonstrated consistency and discipline to win all their matches from the group stage.

Badminton powerhouses China came to the regional tournament minus their superstars such as Lin Dan and Chen Long.

"We learnt from our mistakes and we came to this tournament well prepared. It gives us the ideal preparation for the Thomas Cup in May," Herry told reporters after the stunning win.

He also warned his players not to be complacent following the victory.

"There are still three months left, we must make better preparation because the challenges (in the Thomas Cup) in Bangkok will be much tougher as there will be Denmark, England and China who will send their full team," he told the Malay Mail.

The Indonesians, who won the last of their record 13 Thomas Cup titles back in 2002, took the lead through their first singles Jonatan Christie, who recovered from a game down to beat world No. 7 Shi Yuqi 16-21, 21-17, 21-18.

It was a powerful attacking comeback from the 20-year-old Indonesian, who had defeated South Korea's world No. 4 Son Wan Ho in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Angga Pratama and Mohammad Ahsan put Indonesia closer to victory after needing only 36 minutes to dispose of He Jiting and Tan Qiang 21-19, 21-18.

Qiao Bin, however, gave China a fighting chance after he outlasted Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-12, 11-21, 21-14.

But doubles pair Rian Agung Saputro and Hendra Setiawan helped Indonesia lift the title with a 21-14, 21-19 win over Han Chengkai and Zhou Haodong.

The women's event saw Japan thrash defending champions and Uber Cup holders China 3-0 for the title.

The Asia Team Championships served as Asian qualification to the Thomas Cup, where the semi-finalists made the cut for the team event to be held in Thailand's capital Bangkok.

Losing men's team semi-finalists Malaysia and South Korea have also qualified for the Thomas Cup finals, which is badminton's most prestigious team event. Denmark are the holders.

Losing women's team semi-finalists Indonesia and Korea likewise qualify for the Uber Cup finals.