Badminton fans in Vietnam will have the chance to watch leading players from around the world on home soil as an Asian championship is scheduled to begin in Ho Chi Minh City later this month.
Many world-class players are slated to arrive in the Southeast Asian country to attend the Robot Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships 2017, running from February 14 to 19 in Ho Chi Minh City, the organizers said on Thursday.
The championship will see competitions between 13 countries and territories, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Maldives, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Vietnam.
The players to watch include such Chinese stars as the world’s No.1 mixed doubles Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen; Shi Yuqi, the world’s No.11 male player; He Bingjiao, who ranks 10th on the female tally; and Zhang Nan, a men’s doubles gold medalist in Rio 2016.
In the meantime, the world’s No.3 female player Sung Ji Jyun and No.4 male player Son Wan Ho will represent South Korea, together with the Chang Ye Na-Lee So Hee duo, who rank fourth on the global mixed doubles tally.
The Hong Kong players are considered the ‘dark horses’ of the tourney, with many stars in their squad, including Ng Ka Long, Hu Yun and Wong Wing Ki, who rank 8th, 14th and 17th, respectively in the world’s men's singles table.
Host Vietnam will also send the best players to the competition, including the country’s top player Nguyen Tien Minh and his newly-wed wife Vu Thi Trang. Minh is the world’s No.42, and Trang, No.38.
Trang will team with Nguyen Thi Sen in the women’s doubles. The duo rank 61st on the world’s tally.
However, Vietnam is considered the underdog and may not make it through the group stage, according to some commentators.
The competition consists of 13 teams, divided into four groups, with Vietnam in Group C, the only four-team group, besides Japan, Thailand and the Philippines.
“Japan is the prominent champion favorite with a strong team featuring the Rio 2016 gold medalist duo Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi, and the world’s No.6 female player Akane Yamaguchi,” Vietnam’s coach Nguyen The Huy remarked.
“Thailand is also much stronger than Vietnam, and we will try to have at least a victory against the Philippines.”
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Chooi Weng Sheng, administrative and events manager with Badminton Asia, the governing body of the sport in Asia, said the championship will be broadcast live in nine countries and territories, and be livestreamed on social media to reach viewers worldwide.
Chooi asserted that the Asia-level championship will be of world-class quality thanks to the participation of the world’s leading players.
Coming to the event, Vietnamese fans will be able to watch badminton stars they only saw on TV in real life, he added.