Wednesday, August 1, 2012 | | By: Febi

BADMINTON: Thais stand between Koo-Tan and semis

IT was another humbling defeat but one that Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong took on their chin as they continue their bid to redeem their battered pride and deliver what to many would be an unlikely Olympics medal.

Their doubters are aplenty, thanks to Kien Keat-Boon Heong's run of poor form ahead of the Olympics but after three group stage matches, some are beginning to believe that the pair have rediscovered the fire and commitment which made them world beaters when they first erupted on the badminton scene.
The good run in the group stage -- despite the defeat to South Korean bogeymen Chung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae on Tuesday -- however, will mean nothing if they don't make Saturday's semi-finals at the Wembley Arena.

Facing them today in the quarter-finals will be Thailand's Bodin Isara-Maneepong Jongjit, a pair in great form as they sealed their last eight place with three wins, including the scalps of Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano and Ko Sung Hyun-Yo Yeon Seong, a result which sent the Koreans packing from the Olympics.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong, though they denied it, obviously fancy their chances against the Thais -- who they beat in their only meeting at the 2009 Sea Games -- but they can't take victory for granted, especially as Bodin-Maneepong beat Sung Hyun-Yeon Seong, a pair the Malaysians have triumphed against only once.

National doubles coach Tan Kim Her was aware of the dangers posed by the Thais.
"Having watched almost all the pairs in action, I would rate the Thais and Kien Keat-Boon Heong, despite the defeat to Jae Sung-Yong Dae, as the ones in form. The Thais have impressed me w ith their style of play.

"We must be especially wary of Bodin, who is essentially a mixed doubles player, as his frontplay can do a lot of damage. We must be able to vary our game against them if we want to win," said Kim Her.
It was good to hear that the Malaysian camp wasn't taking the threat of the Thais lightly, especially as Kien Keat-Boon Heong are just one match away from reaching the medal rounds, which they failed to do at the Beijing Games in 2008.

The players too, despite Jae Sung-Yong Dae whipping them 21-16, 21-11 on Tuesday, are not too worried about the defeat and were already planning for the Thais.
"The Koreans were at the top of their game but this is a result that doesn't matter as we are in the quarter-finals and this is where it all really starts. We have worked hard and have our chance as we must make the most of it," said Kien Keat.

For some, a win over the Koreans would have been the perfect tonic ahead of the knockout rounds but one suspects the Malaysians were hedging their bets as had they finished as Group D winners, they would have had to play the Indonesians and their recent record against them isn't good.

It was not all good news though for Kien Keat-Boon Heong who will most likely play China's world champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng, who meet their compatriots Chai Biao-Guo Zhendong today, in the last four but as Boon Heong said, every match would be a challenge in the knockout stages.
"We have trained well and are confident. All we can do now is give it our best shot and see where we end up," said Boon Heong.

Sunday's final would be where Malaysians want them but for the moment, the threat of the Thais must be overcome first.


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