Indonesia's shock defeat to South Korea in the semi-finals of the Thomas Cup was met yestrerday by disbelief.
The Indonesians, who have won the title a record 13 times, were widely expected to beat the Koreans who had never made the final before in its 60-year history.
Indonesia’s tame 3-0 loss in front of a home crowd deprived them, and their boisterous fans, of another crack at defending champions China, who showed fighting spirt to beat Malaysia 3-2.
“I apologize to Indonesia for the loss,” defending Olympic singles champion Taufik Hidayat told reporters after collapsing against Lee Hyun-Il, who clinched the match for South Korea.
“We tried hard but we failed. Nobody wants to fail. I don’t have any excuse for losing. A loss is a loss. I believe this was the best line-up of players for the tournament,” he said.
Hidayat’s indifferent form throws into doubt whether he has what it takes to successfully defend his Olympic title in Beijing.
Former Indonesian Thomas Cup shuttler Iie Sumirat said the team must knuckle down ahead of the Olympics.
“We have seen that the South Koreans are mentally and physically exceptional, despite the Indonesian spectators’ noisy support to the host team,” he told the domestic Antara news agency. “I believe that the Indonesian team needs more intensive preparations for the Olympics.”
Chairman of the Indonesian Badminton Federation Sutiyoso said he was shocked by the 3-0 fiasco, which was front page news in the badminton-crazy country.
“I really did not expect the result would be like this, I predicted the outcome would be 3-2 for Indonesia,” said Sutiyoso, who like many Indonesians has one name. “Nevertheless, we have to accept their victory because they played so superbly.”
A similar statement was made by Indonesian Sports Minister Adhyaksa Dault, who also watched the match.
“I really did not think we would lose 3-0, but as you have seen, we were no match for the opponents, and they therefore deserve to win,” he said.