Arch rivals Indonesia have chosen not to send all their best available players to the Manila SEA Games. But that would be scant comfort for Malaysia who could still struggle at the biennial Games.
In the men’s singles, Indonesia have opted to drop both Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Tommy Sugiarto from the team to Manila.
Leading the charge would be their world number six ranked player and defending champion Jonatan Christie together with 27th ranked Shehsar Hiren Rhustavito and 57th ranked Firman Abdul Kholik.
The decision to rest Anthony ranked eighth and the 17th ranked Tommy, comes as a surprise but is not expected to derail their hopes of retaining the men’s singles title.
Malaysia’s best bet for the crown is upcoming Lee Zii Jia, who is ranked 16th in the world, two spots behind another SEA player Kantaphon Wangchroen of Thailand.
In the women’s singles, the Indons have named their best three players with Gregoria Mariska Tunjung leading the way.
Thailand, if they choose to send their best would be the odds on favourites to take the singles title although Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min, who made the World Championships quarter-finals could spring a surprise.
Indonesia have also chosen to rest both the world’s top two ranked men’s doubles pairs of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan from the SEA Games bound squad.
But they would have their world number six pairing of Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto, semi-finalists at the world championships, leading the charge.
For the women’s doubles, Indonesia have named their best combination of Greysia Poli and Apriyani Rahayu. The pairing are the currently the best ranked SEA pair in the world at number six and should start as the favourites for the gold.
The mixed doubles, once a forte for the Indons, is perhaps their weakest link this time. Their top ranked pair of Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti would have to contend against two other higher ranked SEA teams at the competition.
While they are ranked seventh in the world, both Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (4) of Thailand and Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon-Go Liu Ying (5) are ranked above them.
THE INDONESIAN SEA GAMES SQUAD
Men’s Singles: Jonatan Christie, Shesar Hiren Rhustavito, Firman Abdul Kholik
Women’s singles: Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, Fitriani, Ruselli Hartawan
Men’s doubles: Fajar Alfian, Muhammad Rian Ardianto, Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira, Ade Yusuf, Leo Rolly Carnando
Women’s doubles: Greysia Polii, Apriyani Rahayu, Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti, Ribka Sugiarto, Ni Ketut Mahadewi
Mixed doubles: Praveen Jordan, Melati Daeva Oktavianti, Rinov Rivaldy, Pitha Haningtyas Mentari