NANNING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The 16th edition of the Sudirman Cup will be held from May 19 to 26 in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Without the three veteran players Lin Dan, Li Xuerui and Zhang Nan, can China win the 11th title after their loss to South Korea two years ago at home?
After the first edition in 1989 won by Indonesia, the Sudirman Cup has seen 15th tournaments with China winning ten titles and South Korea collecting four titles over the past three decades.
Japan can be the biggest rival to China. In April's badminton Asia Championships, China claimed golds only in mixed doubles and women's doubles, while Japan took three victories from women's singles, men's singles and men's doubles. Men's singles shuttler Kento Momota is the first Japanese man to top the Badminton World Federation rankings.
In the Chinese squad of 20 players, eight play in Sudirman Cup for the first time. Chen Yufei ended title drought of women's singles for China by winning the 2018 Fuzhou China Open. However, Shi Yuqi was defeated by Japan's top-ranked Momota in Asia Championships in Wuhan.
China are in Group D with India and Malaysia. India has the firepower in singles with female shuttlers Pusarla Venkata Sindhu and Saina Nehwal as well as male players Srikanth Kidambi and Sameer Verma.
Malaysia will fight for victory without the best-known players such as Lee Chong Wei, Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong. They can bank on their men's doubles and women's singles.
Son Wan-ho and Sung Ji-hyun's recent injuries would be a setback for defending champion South Korea with a young team. The 17-year-old An Se-young triumphed over Olympic champion Li Xuerui in New Zealand Open.
Indonesia have been rising in recent years. They have Asian Games gold medalist Jonatan Christie and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting who beat Momota and Chen Long last year.
According to Zhao Jianhua, Chinese former badminton player and vice president of Chinese Badminton Association, China have strength in mixed doubles with world top two pairs Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong and Wang Yilv/Huang Dongping. But China may face huge challenges in other four categories.