HONG KONG officials are fuming after discovering the territory have been placed in the bottom tier of the Uber Cup draw despite a favourable showing in last year's competition. The tournament, badminton's most prestigious women's team event, begins in February with the Asian preliminaries in Singapore, from which three teams will qualify for the main draw. Six countries have been given byes to the last eight of the preliminaries - while Hong Kong are one of 10 ''minnows'' who must battle it out for the remaining two places. But the territory's officials are furious that the teams given byes include Taiwan, beaten by Hong Kong in last year's Uber Cup, and Australia, whose full national team was defeated by the territory's youth side this year. Even Malaysia, entering the tournament for the first time, have been granted an automatic place in the last eight - to be split into two ''semi-final'' groups. Hong Kong Sports Institute head badminton coach Diana Lo Leung Bik-kuen described the draw as a ''gross injustice''. ''We were expecting a semi-final place after last year's performancesaid an angry Lo. Hong Kong are in a five-team group with Mexico, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Mauritius, from which the winners will go through to join South Korea, Taiwan and Australia in one of the semi-final groups. India, North Korea, the Philippines, Nepal and Singapore will contest the other first-round pool, with the winners joining Japan, Thailand and Malaysia in the second semi-final group.