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Indonesia and Malaysia on top

Indonesia Garuda and Indonesia Rajawali went top of their respective groups in the inaugural Axiata Cup with convincing victories in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Malaysia Tigers and Malaysia Leopards are currently second, but all four teams are assured of reaching the semi-finals with one more round of group matches to play.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tigers defeated Thailand 3-0, but not before a scare for former world No. 1s Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, who were taken the distance by scratch Thai pair Maneepong Jongjit-Patiphat Chalardchalaem.

Many had expected them to have an easy time, but the young Thais showed no fear against their more experienced opponents and took the first game 27-25.

That was the signal for the Malaysians to up their game and they took the next two games 21-9, 21-16 to give Malaysia an unassailable 2-0 lead.

“This was our first game of the tournament and I took some time to warm-up,” said Kien Keat. “We got better as the match progressed and managed to pull out a win.”

Earlier, Hafiz Hashim, like Kien Keat-Boon Heong, a former All England champion, was stretched by Boonsak Ponsana before claiming a 21-19, 21-16 victory in the opening tie.

Liew Daren, who is the new Malaysian No. 2, then thrashed Suppanyu Avihingsanon 21-14; 21-18 to give the hosts a 3-0 victory.

Indonesia Rajawali defeated Philippines 3-0 with Tommy Sugiarto outplaying Paul Jefferson Vivas 21-13, 21-8, Angga Pratama-Ryan Agung Saputra hammering Mathias Boe-Ronel Estanislao (above), 21-16, 21-7 and Hayom Rumbaka beating Antonio Benjamin Gadi (right), 21-9, 21-18.

Indonesia Rajawali and Malaysia Tigers have four points each with the former taking top spot as they have a 12-0 games record as opposed to a 12-1 record for Malaysia.

Over in Jakarta, Zulfadli Zulkifli was the hero for the Malaysia Leopards as he tamed Nguyen Hoang Nam in three games to help them to a 2-1 victory over Vietnam in a Group J match.

The world and Asian junior champion, who lost concentration in the second game after disputing some line calls, eventually carved out a 21-19, 16-21, 21-14 victory to hand the Malaysian team a place in the semi-finals.

Earlier, Misbun Ramdan Misbun suffered a 10-21, 15-21 defeat to Nguyen Tien Minh before Ow Yao Ha-Chooi Kah Ming levelled the match by beating Bui Bang Duc-Dao Manh Thang 21-8,  21-8.

Joining the Leopards in the final four are hosts Indonesia Garuda, who trounced Singapore 3-0, meaning their match with Malaysia tomorrow will decide the group champions.

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Group J

Indonesia Garuda 3 Singapore 0 (Taufik Hidayat bt Robin Gonansa 24-22,  21-13; Hendra Setiawan-Markis Kido bt Terry Yeo-Yi Liu 21-12,  21-16; Sony Dwi Kuncoro bt Huang Chao 21-19,  21-6)
Malaysia Leopards 2 Vietnam 1 (Misbun Ramdan Misbun lost Nguyen Tien Minh 10-21, 15-21; Ow Yao Ha-Chooi Kah Ming bt Bui Bang Duc-Dao Manh Thang 21-8,  21-8; Zulfadli Zulkifl bt Nguyen Hoang Nam 21-19,  16-21, 21-14)

Group K
Malaysia Tigers 3 Thailand 0 (Hafiz Hashim bt Boonsak Ponsana 21-19, 21-16; Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong bt Maneepong Jongjit-Patiphat Chalardchalaem 25-27, 21-9, 21-16; Liew Daren bt Suppanyu Avihingsanon 21-14; 21-18)
Indonesia Rajawali  3 Philippines 0 (Tommy Sugiarto bt Paul Jefferson Vivas 21-13, 21-8, Angga Pratama-Ryan Agung Saputra bt Mathias Boe-Ronel Estanislao 21-16, 21-7; Hayom Rumbaka bt Antonio Benjamin Gadi 21-9, 21-18)

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