Badminton Life

South Korea Triumph in Uber Cup Qualifiers

South Korea's men may have fallen short of the gold medal but their women showed they are among the best in the region as they won the Uber Cup qualifiers in Vietnam with ease.

The Koreans secured a convincing 3-1 victory over Japan in the final to qualify for May's Uber Cup Finals in Jakarta, Indonesia. They are joined in the Finals by Japan, Malaysia and most probably Hong Kong.

Malaysia, not known as a power in women's badminton, surprised Hong Kong 3-0 in the third-place match to seal their place in the Finals.

Hong Kong, despite finishing fourth, are favourites to join them because their overall ranking is better than Scotland's. Scotland finished fourth in the European qualifiers and the team with the highest ranking at the end of February goes through to Jakarta.

Jun Jae-youn gave South Korea a 1-0 lead with a 24-22, 21-14 win over Japan's Eriko Hirose. However, the Japanese refused to led their opponents run away with the match as they fought back in the doubles.

Satoko Suetsuna and Miyuki Maeda combined to beat the Korean pair of Lee Hyo-jung and Kim Min-jung 22-20, 21-16.

Any thoughts of a Japanese rally quickly disappeared when Hwang Hye-youn restored Korea's lead with her 21-17, 21-13, win in 50 minutes over Yu Hirayama.

Japan bounced back in the first doubles when Satoko Suetsuna-Miyuki Maeda, coming in for Kumiko Ogura-Reiko Shiota, defeated Lee Hyo Jung-Kim Min Jung 22-20, 21-16 to draw level.

Hwang Hye Youn put Korea on top again when she defeated Yu Hirayama 21-17, 21-13 in 50 minutes. The doubles paring of Lee Kyung-won and Ha Jun-eun wrapped up the final for Korea after they easily defeated Japan's Tomoni Matsuda and Aki Akao 21-17, 21-5.

Japan's head coach is Park Joo-bong who was a stalwart doubles player for Korea in the past. But he didn't expect his former team to tinker with their doubles players and catch the Japanese off-guard.

"I did not expect the Koreans to split their doubles but anyway we were not able to field our first doubles Ogura and Shiota because they have been overworked at the group stages and we were worried about their next tournament," he said.

Malaysia beat India 4-1 in the group stage and Singapore 3-1 in the quarter-finals to reach the last four and were only beaten 3-2 by Japan to be denied a place in the final.

Their young players shone with Julia Wong, Ng Hui Lin and Goh Liu Ying at the forefront as they made short work of Hong Kong.

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