Indian badminton team leaves for Thomas/Uber Cup

February 16th, 2008 - 10:14 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The Indian badminton squad left Saturday for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Asian zone qualifiers from Feb 19-24 with national coach Pullela Gopichand allaying fears of under-preparedness of the players. Gopichand told IANS before the departure that ideally he would have liked the players having the preparatory camp in Goa, but unfortunately it had to be cancelled owing to the non-availability of shuttlecocks.

The Badminton Association of India called off the camp, saying that Sports Authority of India was unable to provide the shuttles. SAI, however, cited the government ban on import of shuttles from the avian flu hit China as the reason.

Gopichand said he has high hopes in the Thomas Cup and their first aim would be to reach the quarterfinals.

“I would have wanted the players to train before the qualifiers. We have always had a camp before major tournaments, but they are all experienced and resourceful players and they can cope with the situation. I am sure that they will be able give their best.”

India, who had a brilliant run in the last edition of Thomas Cup, reaching the World Group finals where they finished fifth, have been clubbed with Japan and Pakistan in Group C. In the women’s team championships for Uber Cup India have been drawn against Malaysia in Group Z.

“Our chances of qualifying for the Thomas Cup finals are good. Pakistan are beatable and if we can go past Japan we can reach the quarters,” said national champion Chetan Anand.

Barring major upsets, India should sail into the quarterfinal where they might run into Malaysia, the top seeds, who are drawn with Taiwan, Philippines and minnows Cambodia in Group A.

A total of 13 teams in Thomas Cup and 11 in Uber Cup will take part in the qualifiers.

Defending champions China and hosts Indonesia have already booked two spots for the finals. Malaysians will be the top seeds in the men’s competition, while Japan are the top seeds in the women’s event.

In the Thomas cup qualifiers, the semifinalists will qualify for the finals in Jakarta from May 11 to 18 while in the Uber Cup three teams will directly qualify while the fourth team will be compared with the ranking of the European qualifiers. The higher ranked will go through.

Teams:

Thomas Cup: Arvind Bhat, Chetan Anand, P. Kashyap, Rupesh Kumar, Sanave Thomas, V. Diju, Akshaye Diwalkar and J.B.S. Vidhyadhar.

Uber Cup: Saina Nehwal, Aditi Mutatkar, Trupti Murgunde and Sayali Gokhale, Jwala Gutta, Shruti Kurien, Aparna Balan and Jyotsna

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