Fri, 12 May 2000

Two big names confident of early victory in Thomas Cup

KUALA LUMPUR (JP): Former world greatest doubles players Kim Moon-soo and Park Joo-bong will participate in the Thomas Cup championships round-robin match at the Putra Indoor Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Friday.

Kim, who partnered with Park, winning the 1992 Olympic Games gold medal, is coaching the South Korea team and will challenge his former partner's team, Malaysia, at the decisive opening match.

Playing before their own home crowd, Park, replacing Dane Morten Frost Hansen in 1999, has a good chance of winning the Thomas Cup.

Kim, relying on first doubles Kim Dong-moon and Ha Tae-kwon and second doubles Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-suu, expressed optimism that his team would win the opening match.

"In the doubles sector we can be sure of winning two points. However, we must be aware of Malaysia's top pair of Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah. The Malaysians defeated us three times in their four meets," he said after a training session Thursday.

"Our first doubles team will have difficulty against them. But in the second doubles, we will easily win over Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock."

"We hope to be able to steal one point in the singles. But I have to admit that Malaysia is a little bit stronger than us."

Park admitted that the Thomas Cup was very important for the Malaysians and he felt under pressure to do well before the home crowd.

However, Park said they would be able to steal a few points in the doubles, expressing optimism that Choong and Lee would be able to repeat their victories over Kim and Ha in the previous meets.

"Kim and Ha may be one of the strongest pairs in the world but I hope Choong and Lee will be able to use their experience to defeat them."

"I will also field Yap in the opening match since he has recovered from his injury."

Yap got his injury during training last month but had already practiced with teammates prior to the championships.

Malaysia will likely field Wong Choong Hann in the first singles to face Ann Jae-chang, second singles Yong Hock Kin is likely to face Lee Hyun-ill and third singles Roslin Hashim is likely to challenge Park Tae-sang.

Park considered Ahn as the decision maker for both teams.

"We have an advantage in that Ahn injured his ankle after competing in the Japan Open last month. Despite his four-week rest, we are not sure how well he has recovered," he said.

Easy victory

In another match, Denmark will likely have an easy victory over India, relying on its world number one singles Peter Gade Christensen and Olympic champion Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen.

Coach Kenneth Larsen said: "We must win as big as possible in order to avoid losing in points. I don't mean to underestimate India. They qualified for the event and it means they are good enough."

India's head coach Syed Mohammed Arief was realistic about his team's position in the group.

"We are in a very strong group and basically we only want to give our best. We lost to South Korea 2-3 in New Delhi in February, I think we have a chance."

"I know Denmark will do their best to beat us but we want to avoid a 5-0 whitewash."

In the Uber Cup team, China will be no contest to Sweden.

Swedish coach Atiek Djauhari said: "Our girls are lacking in experience because of the absence of top singles Marina Andrievskaya and doubles Jenny Karlsson. Both were injured in the European championships last month."

In another match, the Netherlands was pessimistic about its chance to beat South Korea because one of its singles players, Brenda Beenhakker, and a doubles player, Erica Van Den Heuvel, were injured.

"Without Erica and Brenda we must revise our strategy. We don't want to come in last place," said head coach Martijn van Dooremalen. (yan)