Indonesia set up Asia showdown against China

INDONESIA staked their claim to the Asian Badminton Championship crown with a 3-2 semi-final triumph over Thomas Cup holders Malaysia at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium yesterday.

The Indonesians, fancied to deprive China of their third straight Asian title, were never in any serious danger as they only conceded the two dead rubbers after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Seiko-sponsored tournament.

Recently-crowned All-England champion Haryanto Arbi overcame stiff resistance from veteran Foo Kok Keong in the second game to clinch the opening rubber 15-6, 18-15. He breezed through the first game in 15 minutes but was fully extended in the second before his superior fitness prevailed and he won it 18-15.

Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaki proved much too strong for Soo Beng Kiang and Cheah Soon Kit in the first doubles match, winning 15-6, 15-10 to give Indonesia a 2-0 lead.

The third rubber between Indonesia's 1991 All-England winner Ardy Wiranata and Yong Hock King brought the tie to a climax with the young Malaysian putting up a surprisingly tough challenge.

Yong applied the early pressure and took a 12-10 lead, but experience told as Wiranata rose to the crucial points and won it 15-12. The Malaysian was shattered after losing the energy-sapping 30-minute opener and won only four points in the second.

Malaysia salvaged some pride by clinching the two dead rubbers to make the scoreline look more respectable. The Yap brothers, Yee Guan and Yee Hup, won the second doubles by default when Indonesia's Bagus Setiadi retired with a knee injury after two games.

Ong Ewe Hock picked up another point for the Malaysians by beating Hermawan Susanto in three games.

Indonesian coach Indra Gunawan dismissed suggestions his team would start favourites against China today and predicted a very close match.

''It will be very tight. The Chinese are a formidable team with a good doubles pair and two very good singles players in Wu Wenkai and Liu Jun,'' said Gunawan.

''Of course we have to be confident when we go into a match, but it will be very close.'' China beat Taiwan 4-1 to stay on course for their third straight team crown, having won in Semarang, Indonesia, in 1987 and again on their home soil in Shanghai in 1989.

The Chinese won the first four rubbers before Horng Shin-jeng and Huang Chuan-chen prevented a whitewash by beating Chen Kang and Liu Jin 15-11, 15-5 in the second doubles.