Sat, May 17, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Indonesia confident they can win Cup

AFP , JAKARTA

Indonesia's Adriyanti Firdasari returns the shuttlecock to Germany's Julianne Schenk during their Uber Cup semi-final match in Jakarta on Thursday.

PHOTO: AFP

A pumped-up Indonesia are confident they have what it takes to do what no one else has done in 10 years at the elite Uber Cup — beat China.

Indonesia’s downing of Germany in the semi-finals, which put them in the final for the first time since 1998, was front page news here where badminton is avidly followed.

The team are buoyant ahead of the showdown against China on today.

“We are able to beat China in the final,” said Adriyanti Firdasari, ranked 35th in the world.

Firdasari is likely to play either Lu Lan or Zhu Lin in the second singles match today. World No. 1 Xie Xingfang goes up against Indonesia’s top player, Maria Kristin.

The last time the two teams met in an Uber Cup final was in 1998 in Hong Kong, when Indonesia arrived as two-time champions.

China sent them packing and have not been beaten since. In contrast, Indonesia never again revisited those highs, with today’s final their first since that fateful day 10 years ago.

Team manager Susi Susanti, a member of the Indonesian side that won the Cup in 1994 and 1996, said her team would be well-prepared physically and psychologically. She attributed their success this year to teamwork.

“The win against Germany was the fruit of collective work. I am very proud of my Uber Cup players,” she said.

Asked if they could beat China, she replied: “Miracles happen. It is the best chance our country has had for a long time to win the Cup.”

Working in Indonesia’s favor will be a boisterous home crowd at the Bung Karno Sports Hall.

China has not looked as invincible this year, with a young team that national coach Li Yongbo admits are still learning the ropes.

“This is the first time Xie Xingfang has to shoulder the responsibility of winning the first game and getting a winning start for the team,” he said. “Likewise for the younger ones, Lu Lan and Zhu Lin, who are having their first Uber Cup outing, helping China retain the Cup. It is good for them to have the opportunity to experience this intense level of competition, which is part and parcel of the overall development of a world class athlete.”

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