NEWS : World title will go to an Asian, predicts Misbun

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  1. kwun

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    The Star Online > Sports - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

    World title will go to an Asian, predicts Misbun

    KUALA LUMPUR: National singles chief coach Misbun Sidek believes that an Asian will lift the men's singles title in the World Badminton Championships, which will be played in Birmingham from July 28-Aug 3.

    Misbun is expecting the winner of the blue riband event to come from China, Indonesia or even Malaysia.

    China will be represented by current world number one Chen Hong, world number five Xia Xuanze, Lin Dan and Bao Chunlai.

    Since the inception of the World Championships in 1977, Chinese and Indonesian players have taken turns to win the prized crown 10 times.

    The only times the title went to a European was in the inaugural edition through Flemming Delfs and in 1999 through another Dane, Peter Rasmussen.

    Indonesia will be represented in Birmingham by Busan Asian Games gold medallist Taufik Hidayat, Marleve Mainaky, Rony Agustinus and Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) winner Sony Dwi Kuncoro.

    Malaysia will have China Open champion Wong Choong Hann, Lee Tsuen Seng and the Hashim brothers, Roslin and Hafiz.

    “All four Chinese players are capable of becoming the world champion but I am wary, especially, of Chen Hong and Xuanze, who won the Japan Open this year,” said Misbun.

    “Both of them are ahead of the rest and able to produce a 95 per cent play of high quality.”

    Youngsters Lin Dan and Chunlai already have one major title under their belt. Chunlai, 20, took the Danish Open title in 2001 while Lin Dan won the Korean Open last year.

    “As for Indonesia, Taufik is always a favourite in any competition because he is naturally talented. He also has very good strokes. If he gets his fitness back, he will be a very strong threat. So is Kuncoro, who have the potential to create a strong impact,” said Misbun.

    He also sees Denmark's former world number one Peter-Gade Christensen as a potential threat to the big guns.

    “Although he is competing on a wildcard, Christensen has the experience and ability to push his way through the medal rounds. The fact that the competition is played in Europe is also to his advantage,” said Misbun.

    But having said that, Misbun is predicting that Asians will have an edge over the Europeans.

    “Asian players have the stronger motivation to push themselves to the limit because of the money factor. In China and Indonesia, big cash incentive awaits the player who becomes the world champion. It is the same for our Malaysian players,” he said.

    “This gives them the extra boost to target for that particular title, besides personal goals.”

    As for the Malaysian players, Misbun said that much would depend on the draw and the strategy drawn up.

    “All four of our players have beaten the other top players before. There is also the fact that the there have been no competition after the Korean Open in April and this makes it hard for everyone to gauge their rivals' form,” he said.

    “The best way is to prepare the players skills through hard training to make them produce a consistent display in a competition.

    “They will have to watch out for those who could play a spoilers role, among them Lee Hyun-il (South Korea), Ronald Susilo (Singapore), Boonsak Polsana (Thailand) and Kenneth Jonassen (Denmark).”

    The International Badminton Federation (IBF) will release the draw on Friday. The day before, they will name the seeded players.

    The Malaysian singles players all failed to advance beyond the third round in the last edition of the World Championships in Seville in 2001.

    The best performer thus far in the series is Rashid Sidek – a quarter-finalists in Beijing '87 and Lausanne '95.

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