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Malaysians Enjoy Favourable Uber Cup Qualifying Draw

Malaysia have the easiest of tasks to qualify for the Finals of the Uber Cup, international badminton most prestigious team tournament for women.

The Malaysians have only one team to overcome in their group matches, and that is lowly India.

In Sunday's draw, one of the four groups was sure to have only two teams and that turned out to be Group Z, where Malaysia was placed because of their fourth seeding.

Because the top two teams from each of the four groups qualify for the quarter-finals, Malaysia and India are assured of their places. The only question is who wins the group to earn a favourable draw in the play-offs.

Malaysia are led by world number eight Wong Mew Choo, who is joined by 32nd-ranked singles player Julia Wong Pei Xian.

The Indians will be relying on their best player Nehwal Saina, who has a ranking of 29, to upset the Malaysians, though her main task will be to take her country past the quarter-final stage.

Thailand, once a major power in Asian badminton, can still look forward to putting up a strong showing with their two leading singles players Ponsana Salakjit and Chansrisukot Soratja.

Ponsana has risen to 33 in the world while Chansrisukot has a ranking of 44. Japan, though, are likely to possess too much strength in depth for the Thais with three doubles pairs in the world's top 15.

Sri Lanka are unlikely to trouble either Japan or Thailand with a squad of limited experience. Thilini Jayasinghe is their highest-ranked player at 113.

Group X features South Korea, Singapore and Cambodia. Second seeds Korea will be favourites to top the group with their squad of three top-35 singles players, consisting of Jun Jae-youn, 11, Hwang jye-youn, ranked 28, and world number 34 Lee Yun-hwa.

The Singapore women are not as strong as their male counterparts but are still in a good position to reach the quarter-finals.

Their most experienced player is Xing Aiying, who has a world ranking of 39. However, Singapore may struggle for depth in the singles competition with their next best player, Fu Mingtian, hovering in the low 80s.

Chinese Taipei head Group Y, which also features Hong Kong and Vietnam. Despite being given the group seeding, Hong Kong are favourites to finish top.

Chinese Taipei's highest-ranked player is number 52 Hsieh Yu-hsing while Hong Kong can boast 19th-ranked Chan Yan-kit and number 22 Ng Wei.

Hong Kong's seeding suffered after Zhou Mi was told she was not eligible because she had previously represented China at the 2005 competition.

Like the Thomas Cup, the top two teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals. However, only the leading three teams after the whole competition advance to May's Uber Cup Finals in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The fourth placed team will be compared to the team that finishes fourth in the European qualifiers. The country with the higher world ranking, as of February 27, will win a ticket to Jakarta.

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