Singapore shuttlers not taking anything for granted
Singapore cautious against weakened field at Asian team tourney and virus
Singapore's shuttlers are "battling" on two fronts at this week's Badminton Asia Team Championships in Manila, Philippines, and they are taking nothing for granted.
On the personal front, hygiene guidelines and precautions are in place, in the light of the coronavirus outbreak.
On the tournament front, the withdrawal of China and Hong Kong due to the epidemic has also eased the path to the quarter-finals for other teams, but the Republic are not allowing complacency to creep in.
Said team manager Kenneth Khoo: "When we participate in tournaments, we aim to do our best and win. We are always prepared to meet and compete with players from any country.
"Our team have been training hard in Singapore immediately after the SEA Games."
China and Hong Kong's shuttlers had to miss the tournament as the Philippine government has imposed a 14-day quarantine for travellers from both countries.
The tournament, which started at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum yesterday, ends on Sunday.
The Republic's men - led by world No. 37 Loh Kean Yew - were initially drawn with Taiwan and Malaysia in Group C.
But, following the redraw, they and Taiwan found themselves in Group D, along with hosts Philippines.
Today, they will meet the Philippines, who lost 5-0 to Taiwan yesterday.
The top two teams in each of the four groups will qualify for the quarter-finals.
In the women's event, China's withdrawal means only 10th-seeded Singapore and sixth-seeded Taiwan are left in Group Z, with both countries assured of quarter-final spots.
But Khoo insisted Singapore's women, led by world No. 25 Yeo Jia Min, will not ease off when they face world No. 2 Tai Tzu-ying and company tomorrow.
EYEING AN UPSET
Said Khoo: "(Taiwan) are strong in both the men's and women's category with (world No. 2) Chou Tien-chen leading the team. But we will definitely try to create an upset."
India have also pulled out of the women's event, but their men are taking part.
If Singapore manage to win their quarter-finals, they will also qualify for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals in Denmark in May.
The Republic's last appearance in both biennial tournaments was in 2014.
In the aftermath of the virus outbreak, the Republic's 20-strong contingent - comprising 14 shuttlers, five officials and a physiotherapist - have taken ample precautions since reaching Manila on Sunday.
Khoo added: "Training has been as per normal... as we took all the necessary precautionary measures and more.
"We emphasised on personal hygiene, taking their temperatures often and insisted that the players drink lots of water and rest well.
"The players are in good form and looking forward to the tournament."