By RAJES PAUL
PETALING JAYA: Indonesia will be at full strength for badminton in the SEA Games. And the draw is unfavourable to the Malaysians.
With the odds stacked against them, Malaysia can only expect one gold medal from their top women's singles player Wong Mew Choo in the Korat Games next month.
From the draw released by the Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) in Bangkok on Wednesday, only Mew Choo has reason to smile.
The 2003 gold medallist at the Games in Hanoi is the top seed and she is drawn to meet Singaporean Li Li in the semi-finals. The other half of the draw has second seed Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia, Singaporean Xing Aiying and Malaysian Julia Wong.
It will be tough for Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty to retain the women's doubles title. How the pair would fare would very much depend on the condition of Eei Hui, who is carrying back and knee injuries.
They are seeded second behind China-born Singaporeans Li Yujia-Jiang Yanmei and the biggest threat in their path to the final are Indonesians Polii Greysia-Jo Novita, who have been drawn in their quarter.
The men's singles and doubles gold medals are as good in Indonesia's bag.
The top two seeds – Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat and World Championships runner-up Sony Dwi Kuncoro – are expected to make it a 1-2 finish in the men's singles.
Malaysia's Yeoh Kay Bin is expected to meet Taufik in the quarter-finals while top back-up shuttler Tan Chun Seang is likely to meet Sony at the same stage.
In the men's doubles, world champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan are expected to live up to their top billings in the biennial Games. Malaysia's best bets – Gan Teik Chai-Lin Woon Fui – are expected to meet them in the semi-finals.
In the lower half of the draw, Mohd Razif Abdul Latif-Khoo Chung Chiat will have to overcome two pairs – Singaporeans Hendra Wijaya-Hendri Kurniawan Saputra and second seeds Joko Riyadi-Hendra Gunawan of Indonesia – to make it to the final.
In the team events, Malaysia are the third and top seeds in the men's and women's competitions respectively and Indonesia are the favourites to take both the titles.
The team competitions are scheduled for Dec 8-10 and the individual events will be held from Dec 11-14.
At the last Games in Manila in 2005, a stronger Malaysian team, led by Lee Chong Wei, won three of the seven gold medals at stake.