Saturday, May 19, 2018
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
For hosts Thailand, the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018 in Bangkok present a great opportunity to achieve something that none of their predecessors has done – win the title. With a balanced women’s team, and young and upcoming prospects in their men’s team, the Thais seem quite capable of disrupting the campaigns of the traditional powerhouses.
Their Uber Cup campaign will rely on the skills and experience of Ratchanok Intanon (featured image). A day before the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018 are to start, the former Women’s Singles World champion said the support of the home crowd would be vital for a successful campaign.
“First of all, I welcome everyone to Bangkok! I’m very happy that you (media) are all here. Hopefully the crowd will support us through the week and we’ll do well. I do feel a little pressure. The home crowd will expect us to do well. I hope the team can come together and perform as a unit.”
Her compatriot Khosit Phetpradab sounded assured about their preparedness for the biggest event of their career. “We have prepared well and hard. We know our opponents in the group and we expect to do well. It’s the first time that we’re playing the Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok and we’re motivated to do well,” said the young Men’s Singles player.
One man who has seen it all before – in his role as a player for Indonesia and later as a coach with several teams – is Thailand coach Rexy Mainaky.
The team event, he analysed, was a different kind of competition compared to the individual tournament and called for adaptability to various situations.
“It all depends on how the players approach the tournament,” said Mainaky. “If the top player show a hint of nervousness it will put pressure on the rest of the team.
In the Uber Cup we want to go to the top of the group. We can win the group and then wait for the quarter-final draw. We have prepared well. Our Thomas Cup group is tough as we have some young players. Korea and Indonesia are in our group. Indonesia have won the Thomas Cup 13 times, so we have to be realistic about our chances. Our first match is against Korea – let’s see about that.”
The competition this time, he said, was evenly matched – particularly in the Thomas Cup: “China have the best team in the Thomas Cup, followed by Indonesia, Denmark and Japan. It will be tough for Denmark to defend the crown as there will be more pressure.”