The Sudirman Cup draw will see Malaysia battle it out with England and Japan. Pix by LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR.

KUALA LUMPUR: The national badminton squad can heave a sigh of relief with a comfortable path for the 2017 Sudirman Cup Badminton Championship in Gold Coast, Australia on May 21-28.

In the draw today, Malaysia were drawn with 2014 Thomas Cup champions, Japan and England in Group 1C.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) technical director Morten Frost Hansen said it was a lucky draw for Malaysia which had a good chance of at least entering the quarter-finals.

“It is an acceptable draw. We are in a good group where we have our chances and it is important for us to win the group matches and top the group in order to get the best possible draw in the quarterfinals. It would be nicer if we were top in the group.

“Japan are strong in the women’s singles and doubles and have the chance to win.

“However, we have good chances in the other three events (men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles),” said Frost.

On the player selection, Frost said that it had not been decided yet and it would most likely be done after the Malaysian Open next month.

Earlier BAM acting president Tan Sri Mohamed Al-Amin Abdul Majid when met by reporters said he would not say it was easy for Malaysia but was satisfied with it.

“This is because Sudirman Cup depends on a mixed team. In any draw, there are advantages and disadvantages.

“From the overall ranking, we are in the fifth place behind four countries. I hope this is the best opportunity for Malaysia to prove themselves as a top mixed team,” he said.

The national squad avoided being drawn with 10-time champions, China which were drawn in Group 1A with Thailand and Hong Kong while Group 1B will have South Korea, Taiwan and Russia.

Last year’s Thomas Cup champions, Denmark were drawn in Group 1D with Indonesia and India.

The Sudirman Cup had been held biennially since 1989 and Malaysia’s best outing was in the semi-finals in the 2009 edition in Guangzhou, China.

In the 2015 tournament in China, Malaysia lost to South Korea in the quarter-finals.--BERNAMA

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