Bangkok preview: Women’s Group B

This group is wide open, with any of the four teams likely to qualify and an understrength Malaysia in danger of struggling.

Thursday 26 September, 8.45 am: CHINA – INDONESIA
Thursday 26 September, 10.15 am: KOREA – MALAYSIA
Thursday 26 September, 4 pm: MALAYSIA – CHINA
Thursday 26 September, 5.30 pm: INDONESIA – KOREA
Friday 26 September, 9.15 am: KOREA – CHINA
Friday 26 September, 10.45 am: MALAYSIA – INDONESIA

Indonesia relied heavily on their starting three in the final of the opening ISTAF SuperSeries 2013/14 tournament last month, perhaps too heavily in fact, with eventual winners Thailand showing them the benefits of strength in depth. Gone therefore are back-ups Florensia Christy (striker) and Chiquita (tekong) and also defender Dini Mita Sari, it remains to be seen whether their replacements – Eva Rahmawati and the experienced Lena and Hasmawati – will be able to help out striker Mega Citra and tekong Rike Media.

Despite being fourth seeds, Malaysia will not have an easy time of things in this group, particularly in the absence of Norzubaidah, who suffered a knee injury in the opening match of ISS 2013/14 India and will not return before Sabah at the end of October. Asumalin Rattana will get another chance to replace her at tekong, having flattered to deceive in Delhi, while Noor Fairuz Azizan comes in as back-up and a potential replacement.

Korea had a disappointing showing in Delhi in the group stages but picked up their game in the play-offs to finish fifth. They have however opted for a totally different line-up this time around – all of whom saw action at King’s Cup last week, when Korea finished third in the team competition – and it will be interesting to see who plays and how well.

The real wild-cards in this group are China, who were absent from the ISS 2013/14 India but finished third in the (admittedly totally separate discipline of) women’s hoop. Those five players will be plying their trade at regu of course here at Fashion Island – at least they should all be good at setting the ball after spending 30 minutes at a time firing it through the 10-metre high hoop in Udon Thani!