Underdog: Viet Nam's top player Nguyen Tien Minh has trained hard in preparation for the Asian Games, aiming to win a medal at the continent's biggest sporting event. — VNA/VNS Photo
HA NOI — Despite being one of the top seeds at the 16th Asian Games' badminton event, Vietnamese Nguyen Tien Minh will have to be at his best to win the championship this November.
Minh who is seeded No 5, will face stiff competition as most of the sport's top players are based in Asia, and they all are targeting ASIAD gold.
According to the draw, the men's single event includes 29 athletes. Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, the world's top player is also seeded No 1. Chinese Lin Dan and Chen Jun are No 2 and 3, respectively. These three all have byes, and will enter the tournament from the second round.
The Vietnamese is drawn in the same half as Lin, who he will meet in the quarter-finals if he can progress through the first two rounds.
Minh's first opponent is Kashyap Parupalli of India and his perennial rival Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand. Both should not be too big an obstacle for Minh who is currently ranked No 9 in the world.
However, the Vietnamese, who suffers from see-sawing form, is susceptible to losing to lesser opposition when under heavy pressure. At the Viet Nam Open last month, Minh failed to defend his title, losing 12-21, 16-21 to world No 274 Chinese Chen Yuekun in the quarter-finals.
The ASIAD quarters offer a major challenge to Minh as he has never defeated Lin. In their most meeting two years ago, Minh was quickly dispatched, without a winning a game.
In preparation for ASIAD, Minh's coach Suharno Asep organised a two-week training course in Indonesia finishing in late October where Minh practised with local world seeded players.
The training camp will be Minh's last chance to hit his peak prior to arriving in Guangzhou. He may have slim chances of winning gold, but Minh did defeat world No 1 Chong Wei last June in the Singapore Open.
The only Vietnamese female player is national champion Vu Thi Trang, who will debut at the tournament.
Trang, ranked No 428 in the world, and there are no expectations that she will shine at the tournament, her personal best was a bronze medal at the Singapore's first Youth Olympics in August, and Trang will take part in the ASIAD tourney primarily to gain experience.
She will meet Lydiah Cheah of Malaysia in the first round, who lost 17-21, 18-21 to Trang in the Viet Nam Challenge in 2008. If she traverses the first hurdle, she will face No 2 seed Saina Nehwai of India.
The ASIAD badminton events take place between November 13-21 at the Tianhe Sport Centre, with a total of seven sets of medals available. — VNS