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Malaysia and Indonesia start with a bang

Both Malaysian teams and their two Indonesian counterparts started the inaugural Axiata Cup with victories on Friday.

The Axiata Cup is a new regional badminton featuring top South-East Asian teams with US$1 million in prize money.

There will be two venues in Malaysia and Indonesia for the group match qualifiers with four teams in each group. After the Group Stage, the two top teams then play cross over home and away games in the semi-finals on separate weekend. The Finals will be held in the same home and away format as the Semi-finals on separate weekends.

Teams may also recruit two foreign players, but only one can play in each tie. The format of the Axiata Cup will be reviewed each year and over time, this event could become the ASEAN Badminton League.

In Group J which is being played in Jakarta, Malaysia Leopards, comprising players being groomed for the 2016 Olympics, trounced Singapore 3-0.

Also scoring an emphatic victory were the Indonesia Garuda, who thrashed Vietnam 3-0.

Over in Kuala Lumpur, Tommy Sugiarto (above), helped the Indonesia Rajawali team outplay Thailand 3-0 while Malaysia Tigers trounced the Philippines 3-0.

Misbun Ramdan Misbun, son of former Malaysian champion Misbun Sidek, started the tournament shakily, losing the first game to Robin Gonansa before finally closing out a 20-22, 21-12, 21-19, victory.

Ow Yao Han-Chooi Kah Ming then beat Terry Yeo-Liu Yi 21-14, 15-21, 21-19, to make sure of the win while world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli also needed three games before beating Chao Huang 17-21, 21-16, 21-16.

The Malaysia Leopards are being groomed for the 2016 Olympics and Zulfadli (left, in red), said: “As the junior team, this event is very useful as a practice. We are still young. So we play with nothing to lose.

“Our coach has set a target to reach the semi-finals. We are all under 21 and preparing for the 2016 Olympics.”

Former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, who came back from an opening game lost before beating Nguyen Tien Minh 16-21, 21-18, 21-15, said: “Sports is a tool to unify. Athletes should be appreciated by the public for their achievements. Badminton is the only sport that can bring gold in the Olympics for Indonesia.

“That’s why it’s important for the country that we continue to achieve high results in badminton. “

For more information on the tournament, click here.

Group J
Malaysia Leopards 3 Singapore 0 (Misbun Ramdan Misbun bt Robin Gonansa 20-22, 21-12, 21-19; Ow Yao Han-Chooi Kah Ming bt Terry Yeo-Liu Yi 21-14, 15-21, 21-19; Zulfadli Zulkifli bt Chao Huang 17-21, 21-16, 21-16)

Indonesia Garuda 3 Vietnam 0 (Taufik Hidayat bt Nguyen Tien Minh 16-21, 21-18, 21-15; Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano bt Nguyen Hoang Hai-Duong Bao Duc 21-10, 21-16; Sony Dwi Kuncoro bt Nguyen Hoang Nam 21-10, 21-9)

Group K

Indonesia Rajawali  Leopards 3 Thailand 0 (Tommy Sugiarto bt Boonsak Ponsana 21-17, 23-21; Alvent Yulianto Chandra-Hendra Aprida Gunawan bt Maneepong Jongjit-NipithonPhuangphuapet 23-21, 21-19; Hayom Rumbaka bt Suppanyu Avihingsanon 21-13, 21-17)

Malaysia Tigers 3 Philippines 0 (Hafiz Hashim bt Marc Zwiebler 21-9, 21-7; Lim Kim Wah-Goh V Shem bt Paul Jefferson Vivas-Ronel Estanislao 16-21  21-11  21-8; Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif bt Antonio Benjamin Gadi 21-14, 21-16)

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