Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia will be the highest-ranked men's player at the Badminton Asia Team Championships ©Getty Images

Only eight countries are set to participate in the Badminton Asia Team Championships, which is due to begin tomorrow in Shah Alam, Malaysia.

Thailand, Chinese Taipei and China all withdrew because of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the field will be depleted for the tournament, set to run until Sunday (February 20).

The men’s team draw saw Indonesia paired alongside India, South Korea and Hong Kong in Group A while Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Kazakhstan were in Group B.

Indonesia have not sent their strongest squad this year, which may impact their hopes of defending the title.

Apart from world number 55 Chiko Aura Wardoyo and world number 28 doubles pair of Daniel Martin and Leo Rolly Carnando, the rest of the squad are young players lacking in international experience.

Meanwhile, Malaysia will be the team to beat. Their singles team consists of 2021 All England Open champion and world number seven Lee Zii Jia.

Jia is the highest-ranked player among men at the event followed by 2021 BWF world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore, ranked 12th and India’s Lakshya Sen, ranked 13th.

Ng Tze Yong and Leong Jun Hao will join Jia in the Malaysian team.

Doubles pair of Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, who bagged bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will hope to have a good tournament for Malaysia.  

The women’s team draw put Japan with India, Malaysia and Singapore in Group Y while Group Z will feature South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Kazakhstan.

Only two singles players from Japan have world rankings namely Natsuki Nidaira, ranked 72, and Riko Gunji, ranked 181.

In the doubles, world number 656 pair of Yuna Kato and Rui Hirokami will be in action.

Indonesia has the strongest squad among women and will be the team to beat.

World number 27 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung is the highest ranked women’s player in the event.

Gregoria will be joined by world number 76 Putri Kusuma Wardani, world number 296 Stephanie Widjaja, world number 478 Bilqis Prasista and world number 766 Saifi Rizka Nurhidayah.

In the doubles, world number 121 pair of Febriana Dwi Puji Kusuma and Amalia Cahaya Pratiwi are due to be their players.

With a lot of lower-ranked players, this year’s Badminton Asia Team Championships presents an opportunity for some of the young shuttlers to gain experience on the international circuit.