Thu, 04 May 2000

Indonesian team manager hopeful of Thomas Cup chances in KL

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia's team manager Sumaryono expressed optimism about the men's shuttlers chance of retaining the Thomas Cup for the 12th time in the Thomas and Uber Cup championships in Kuala Lumpur next week.

"We are very optimistic about retaining the Thomas Cup, especially if the shuttlers are in good physical condition. We must be able to field the right players, especially in the singles events on the basis of previous matches," he said in a telephone interview.

"We must avoid applying the wrong strategy. For instance, if a shuttler only wins once in six meets with this rival, we must field another player."

Sumaryono, who was appointed team manager on Tuesday, said he was not worried about the men's doubles players.

"Without any intention of being arrogant, I think our men's doubles are still in top position in the world."

Indonesia is in yellow group with Sweden, England and China. Runner up and host Malaysia is in blue group, with Denmark, South Korea and India at the championships from May 11 to May 21.

Sumaryono was realistic about the Uber Cup target.

"If our shuttlers can't win the Uber Cup why should we force them to do so. Of course, we have to boost their fighting spirit, but if technically we are far behind other countries, it will be meaningless."

Sumaryono, who previously served as executive director of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI), recalled the 1996 championships in Hong Kong where the Indonesian Uber Cup team was an underdog while China and Denmark were favorites to win it.

"At that time we had a mounting fighting spirit so Susi Susanti and Mia Audina contributed two victory points to the team. Their teammates only followed their steps. It's much easier than this year."

"We no longer have shuttlers to rely on. Let's not speak about China and Denmark. Japan will be a dark horse for us in the Uber Cup pool round robin match."

Indonesia will face Japan on May 11, Denmark on May 13 and Malaysia on May 15 in the pink group. Defending champion China is in the purple group with South Korea, Sweden and the Netherlands.

PBSI chairman Subagyo Hadisiswoyo will serve as chef de mission with assistance from executive director Karsono and deputy in charge of athletes development Hadi Nazri.

Indonesia aims to win four consecutive Thomas Cups since 1994, and will field singles Hendrawan, Taufik Hidayat, Marlev Mainaky and Hariyanto Arbi, and doubles Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan; Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky; and Antonius Budi Irianto and Sigit Budiarto.

The Uber Cup team will comprise singles players Lidya Djaelawidjaja, Ellen Angelina, Yuli Marfuah and Niniek Masrikah and doubles Elysa Nathanael and Deyana Lomban; Etty Tantri and Cynthia Tuwankotta; and Minarti Timur and Zelin Resiana. (yan)