Tournament favourites Japan are all set to go head-to-head with Group B winners Indonesia in the first quarter-final of the ongoing inaugural edition of Robot Asia Mixed Team Championships 2017 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
While Japan were primed to top Group C, which was the only group to have four teams, a tightly-contested tie on Thursday saw them lose to Thailand and concede the top spot. The scores were tied at 2-2 after which Japan's mixed doubles pairing of Arisa Higashino and Yuta Watanabe lost their match 19-21, 21-18, 18-21 to Savitree Amitrapai and Dechapol Puavaranuk.
However, Thursday's defeat should be seen only as a temporary blip in Japan's campaign and nothing else as they have been sublime against Philippines and Vietnam, crushing the two teams with 5-0 margins.
Despite her defeat to junior world championships runner-up Pornpawee Chochuwong on Thursday, world number six Akane Yamaguchi is a key threat to Indonesia. While the world number one Men's doubles pairing of Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda are favourites to win their match, Women's doubles pairing of world number one Ayaka Takahashi and world number three Misaki Matsutomo are looking invincible as well.
On the other hand, Indonesia topped Group B after beating Sri Lanka and fourth-seeded Malaysia during the group stages. The young side will rely on teenager Gregoria Mariska, who started the season by reaching the finals of Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in India, while 20-year-old Muhammad Bayu Pangisthu is likely to feature in the Men's singles rubber.
It is the doubles category where Indonesia have a lot to catch up with the Japanese squad. The Southeast Asian team clearly has to punch above its weight it it is to stand a chance against the mighty Japanese unit.
Singapore: Eleven Sports
Malaysia: Astro Supersport 4
India: Star Sports
Possible Line-up: Muhammad Bayu (MS), Gregoria Mariska (WS), Wahyu Arya Pankaryanira/Ade Yusuf (MD), Shitta Awanda/Rosalia Nuraidah (WD), Subaktiar Edi/Emanuelle Widjaja (XD)
Possible Line-up: Kenta Nishimoto (MS), Akane Yamaguchi (WS), Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (MD), Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (WD), Arisa Higashino/Yuta Watanabe (XD)