“Malaysia, boleh!”, “Thailand, go go!”, “Let’s go Singapore, let’s go!”, “Go Indonesia!” chanted the tireless supporters in the Singapore Indoor Stadium (SIS), in anticipation of the semifinal matches among their home countries.
When the Malaysian duo won the match, not only did the spectators celebrate, their teammates joined in as well! Photo: Eunice Tan/SINGSOC
The second day of badminton kicked off at noon, featuring the first women’s team semifinal match between Thailand and Singapore. Nineteen-year-old Liang Xiaoyu did her best against world number five Ratchanok Intanon, but lost 21-17 in the first set. Backed by thunderous cheers, Liang fought hard in the second set, but eventually fell again 21-14 to hand Thailand the first win.
Thai pairing Sapsiree Taerattanachai–Puttita Supajikarul and Singapore’s duo Vanessa Neo–Shinta Mulia Sari took the court next for the second match. After a quick first set where the home team lost 21-12, Thailand was made to battle in the second and managed to snatch the win at 21-19.
Thailand and Singaporean shuttlers congratulate one another on a job well done. Photo: Eunice Tan/SINGSOC
It was up to Grace Chua to keep Singapore’s hopes for gold alive in the third match, but she was dispatched swiftly by the higher ranked Busanan Ongbumrungpan, thus securing the third win for Thailand and a place in the finals tomorrow.
Over at the next court, the second women’s team semifinal match saw Malaysia face off against Indonesia. Lindaweni Fanetri made quick work of Tee Jing Yi, who took the first singles match 21-12, 21-10 to seal the first match win for Indonesia.
Malaysia and Indonesia doubles pairings show off their prowess and agility. Photo: Eunice Tan/SINGSOC
In the following match, Malaysian shuttlers Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei went up against Anggia Shitta Awanda and Ni Ketut Mahadewi. Both teams were well coordinated with each team taking a set each. Eventually, the 2013 SEA Games doubles champions pulled through in the third set to win 21-18, 19-21, 21-6, handing Malaysia their first victory to level the score at 1-1.
The third match was similarly forced to three sets as Malaysia’s Ho Yen Mei persevered against Hanna Ramadini and won 21-19, 11-21, 21-19. Malaysia now needed just another match win to secure their spot in the finals, and doubles pair Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Soong Fei Cho did not disappoint. Though they lost the first set 21-15 to Suci Rizki Andini and Maretha Dea Giovani, Anscelly and Soong fought back to take the next two and the match. Malaysia will face Thailand in the gold-medal match tomorrow at 12 noon.
The crowd in the SIS barely had time to catch their breath when the men’s teams were introduced, spurring another round of vociferous cheers.
Despite Singapore’s loss at the women’s team event earlier, spirits were not at all dampened, as supporters rallied behind their men’s team as they commenced their battle against Thailand.
World number 39 and local favourite Derek Wong powered through the first match 21-18, 21-19 against Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk. Looking to even the score, Bodin Issara and Nipitphon Puangpuapech overcame Singapore’s Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Chayut Triyachart 21-11, 22-20.
Thai duo Bodin Issara and Nipitphon Puangpuapech pumps their fists in elation after securing a game equaliser against Singapore. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
With both teams tied at one match each, Thailand extended their lead as Boonsak Ponsana turned the tables to beat Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in three sets 21-17, 18-21, 21-10.
Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew reaching to smash against Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
One more point! Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana victorious against Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in the second singles match. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
With their gold-medal hopes hanging by a thread, Singapore fielded doubles pair Terry Hee and Hendra Wijaya who narrowly took the first set 21-19, much to the ecstasy of the home supporters. Thai doubles pair Sudket Prapakamol and Pakkawat Vilailak struggled to level in the second set, before succumbing 21-16.
With the pressure to achieve victory hanging on his shoulders, Singapore’s Ryan Ng fell behind 21-14 to the more experienced Suppanyu Avihingsanon in the first set of the fifth match. With the unwavering home support as a backdrop, Ng fought hard to stay in the match, but he was unable to overcome his Thai rival as Avihingsanon won the second set by 11 points.
The second semifinal between Indonesia and Malaysia started with Chong Wei Feng drawing first blood against Jonatan Christie 21-18, 13-21, 21-15, giving Malaysia the lead. The next match provided an opportunity for Indonesian doubles players Ricky Karandasuwardi and Angga Pratama to equalise 1-1, and they did so by defeating Tan Wee Kiong and Goh Wei Shem in three sets 21-17, 15-21, 21-17.
Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie defending hard against the attacking play by Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
“Lee Chong Wei! Lee Chong Wei!” roared the SIS, the Malaysians loudest of all, when ace shuttler Lee Chong Wei stepped up for the next match against Firman Abdul Kholik. Nineteen-year-old Kholik gave the former world number one a bit of a scare when the score was tied at 15-15, but Chong’s experience showed when he produced a brilliant smash out of Kholik’s reach to clinch the first set 21-19. In the second set, Lee raced to a 19-10 lead after a series of angled winners, and eventually emerged victorious two points later to raucous cheers.
The next doubles match proceeded swiftly as Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon left their Malaysian opponents Mak Hee Chun and Teo Kok Siang in the wake with a 16-6 lead. After a comfortable 21-10 first-set win, Sukamuljo and Gideon eased to victory by eight points in the second set.
Singles player Ihsan Maulana Mustofa stepped up for Indonesia in the deciding match, facing off against Malaysia’s Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif. To cries of encouragement from the crowd, Mustofa’s superior agility and court coverage allowed him to close the first set at 21-12. In the second set, Abdul Latif sprinted to a 9-0 lead, prompting wild cheers of “Arif! Arif! Arif! Boleh! Boleh! Boleh!” from the Malaysian supporters. But Mustofa was not daunted by the wide margin and kept his cool to deliver several dazzling winners to close the gap. At match point to Abdul Latif, the Indonesian forced a deuce against all odds and continued his spectacular display by taking the next point. The pressure was now on Abdul Latif, and after an agonisingly long rally, the Malaysian’s netted shot fell short, handing Mustofa the point and the match. The Indonesian fell to his knees in disbelief and joy, as his jubilant teammates surrounded him in celebration.
After a hard-fought battle, Indonesia’s Ihsan Maulana Mustofa produced a masterclass to overturn the 9-0 deficit and clinched the final match against Malaysia’s Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif to send Indonesia into the men’s team final tomorrow. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
The men’s team gold medal will be contested between Thailand and Indonesia tomorrow at 5 pm.
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.