Thailand’s badminton stars have been told to set their sights on the knockout stages of the biennial mixed team Sudirman Cup in China, which starts on Sunday.
The squad of eight men and eight women flew out on Friday for the week-long event in Nanning – they are spearheaded by world No 7 Ratchanok Intanon and the fourth-ranked mixed doubles pairing of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
They will compete in the same group as Russia and 2015 runners-up Japan.
The initial stages see 12 teams competing in four groups of three, the top two in each progressing to the quarter-finals.
While Japan, especially the women who won the Uber Cup in Thailand last year, will be a hard nut to crack, Thailand hope to beat Russia in order to reach the last eight as group runners-up.
Khun Ying Patama Leeswadtrakul
“Our goal is to reach the knockout stage,” said Thai badminton chief Khun Ying Patama Leeswadtrakul.
“The team have trained hard at the SCG Badminton Academy and are ready to take up this challenge.”
Thailand open against Russia on May 21 and face the tougher task against Japan the following day.
Patama is hoping that if they do make it through they will get a kind quarter-final draw, which will be drawn immediately after the matches have finished on May 22.
“If we are drawn to face a team that isn’t too tough, we may go even further in the tournament,” she said.
Thailand’s best perfpormances in the Cup have been two runs to the semi-finals, in 2013 and 2015.
China have won the most titles (10) while defending champion South Korea won four times, in 1991, 1993, 2003 and 2017.
Men’s team: Kantaphon Wangcharoen, Khosit Phetpradab, Sitthikom Thammasin, Dechapol Puavaranukroh, Kittinupong Kerden, Tinn Isriyanet, Kittisak Namdash and Nipitphon Puangphupet
Women’s team: Ratchanok Intanon, Pornpawee Chochuwong, Busanan Ongbamrungphan, Sapsiree Taerattanachai, Jongkolphan Kititharakul, Rawinda Prajongjai, Puttita Supajirakul, and Savitree Amitrapai.