Thomas Cup: How the vanquished reacted

India’s Thomas Cup win sent some seismic waves through the Southeast Asian powerhouses and European badminton greats. India can giggle a little and wink a little or have the proverbial last laugh this week. But there was an air of mockery and grudging respect as Malaysia, Denmark and Indonesia resigned themselves to first-time finalists suffering losses in the 2022 edition.

Here are some snippets of the fallout that erupted from the Straits in two proud Shuttle Nations and the Scandinavian giant boasting Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen.

Taufik lets it rip

Indonesian legend and universal favorite Taufik Hidayat couldn’t hold back an almighty tirade as he took to Instagram to post his thoughts below a video of a dejected looking team capturing their silver medals on the podium.

The Thomas Cup champion from 2000 & 2002 had found a scapegoat in the individual coach – with the classic griping: Where’s the coach!?

His post read (translated): “Team Thomas Cup. Thank you for achieving the best possible placement in a final. Surely they are disappointed with this defeat, but one thing must always be remembered: it’s a mental and physical battle… and where is the Indonesian men’s singles coach? Doesn’t Indonesia have a better and more qualified coach? How long is this going to go on, PBSI?” Indonesia’s last Olympic singles champion turned to the federation, tearing up the incumbent after Anthony Ginting and Jonatan Christie lost their games.

This soon became a ‘who is smarter?’ Schrott, a social media follower, compared his hurt tone to Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei’s more reserved response, who was basically asking for patience while Malaysians rebuild their side. Much like India and Pakistan both losing and then berating each other while a third country wins at cricket, Indonesian and Malaysian fans began venting at each other, much like the famous 1970s rivalry.

Indonesia’s individual coach under fire

Indonesia’s individual coach Irwansyah criticized police officers the day after, although moving images of him comforting Ginting and Christie and his efforts to reach the final appeared to have earned him a longer rope. Detik Sport quoted him as saying: “The players of the future will have more opportunities to participate in international championships. This is part of the regeneration process.”

Doubles coach Herry Iman had a more rousing defense of his squad: “We have to accept this defeat as part of the learning process. We won last year, we are happy. We lost this time, so we have to accept that,” Detik quoted the trainer, nicknamed “Fire Dragon,” as saying. “Loss should not dissolve us in sadness. But we have to get up again to look to the future. Whatever the outcome, India deserves to be congratulated,” Herry said.

The king mourns

Liem Swie King, a contemporary of Prakash Padukone of many fabled battles, lamented the loss to India in an incredulous tone. Detik quoted him with amazement: “Three Indonesian players were classified under Anthony Ginting & Co. In fact, based on the track record of the two countries’ encounters, Indonesia should have been quite dominating. But the defending champion didn’t use this advantage. Yes, it has to be evaluated why we lost. The performance up to the final was exceptional. I didn’t think I would lose to India!” exclaimed the 1976, ’79 and ’84 Thomas Cup champion. “Yeah that’s right, India is good too, I just didn’t think it was… with that story that they can win the Thomas Cup. Physically (Indonesian players have to) improve (because) they lose a lot every time they play three games,” Liem said. “(So) you can’t just have skills, it has to be a full game,” he pointed out.

Bad nickname

Chirag Shetty, who was a thorn in the side of Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, found himself on the dartboard of Indonesian netizens after his bloated face was captured in a photograph staring at the lone minion. Shetty, who manned the net with aggressive energy, had clearly shaken the imagined pairing when they withered – at least that’s what Indonesian fans were convinced.

His swivel serve caused more nagging: they called him “Kang Delay”, the serve delayer. A doubles defeat for a country that boasts three top-10 pairings, including Nos. 1 and 2, was a whiplash on dazed Indonesian faces.

Kevin had previously said of those tense moments: “In the second game, when they were leading 19-13, the Indians played like they had nothing to lose. They were so hard to put down.”

Malaysia in soul searching mode

However, Lee Chong Wei asked for accountability and spoke to the Straits Times. But first was a compliment for Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy who gave Malaysia a 3-2 quarterfinal defeat. “I don’t think we would have stood a chance even if we had used Daren (Liew). Srikanth oozed confidence, he was untouchable. Neither (Ng)Tze Yong nor Daren could beat him.

“Jun Hao did poorly against a more experienced Prannoy. Winning the Thomas Cup takes a concerted effort from everyone on the team. We certainly need to improve our individual depth if we want to fight for the title. (Wong) Choong Hann, who has been the individual coaching director for several years, needs to be held accountable and explained,” Lee told ST.

He went on to suggest an Indian-style process: “Maybe it’s time we consider a men’s singles selection process to make it fair to everyone, especially with a lot of independent players outside of the national team.”

Malaysia’s team events specialist Chong Wei Feng added to ST: “India has developed a huge pool of individual players, they have to be given credit. They have five singles in the world top 30 and more than 10 in the top 100.”

Boe Hero; Hoi on the backfoot

Denmark’s only ray of hope in the final was India’s doubles coach Mathias Boe, who told TV2 Sport: “I need to find my dancing shoes and see if I can show them how to do a calm and quiet charming Viennese waltz.” Obviously the Dane couldn’t go along keep up with the wild bhangra and freestyle moves of Chirag & Co.

Elsewhere, national coach Jakob Høi had to defend his decision to field Rasmus Gemke ahead of the experienced HK Vittinghus. “We’ve been in dreamland, and when it’s you and it bursts, it’s hard to get back up. Respect for the guys on and off the pitch, but we weren’t good enough today,” he was quoted as saying by TV2 Sport, adding that India had negotiated better terms. “No, I have no regrets,” he emphasized.

Gemke spoke of feeling miserable as Indians rushed into the plaza to hug Prannoy. “It was hard to stand there when the Indians rushed onto the field, and I knew it was over,” he said.

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