Tokyo, Mar 15, 2014: The draw for the ZEH-NOH 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships, which will be held on 28 April – 5 May 2014, has taken place in spectacular style at the TV Tokyo Studios in Tokyo, Japan.
The much-anticipated event, shown live on TV throughout Japan, determined who the top table tennis teams have to face to become the World Team Table Tennis Champions.
To keep their dream of a home gold medal, the Japanese men’s team will have to overcome five European opponents in group C: Portugal, France, Greece, Romania and Hungary to progress safely into the quarter finals.
Yosuke Kurashima, the men’s Japanese coach, was optimistic ahead of the championships: “We can now concentrate only for Europe. Portugal will be our toughest opponent, but Romania and Greece will also be tough opponents.”
On the draw, Kenta Matsudaira added: “We can’t say that “we’re in a easy group” because every nations are very strong. Each of them has good quality, and I can only say that good for me to play because there are all European teams except Japan in our group.”
Korea Republic and DPR Korea will renew their rivalry on the table tennis court after both being drawn in group D in the men’s draw. DPR Korea created history at last year’s LIEBHERR 2013 World Table Tennis Championships by beating Korea Republic to claim the mixed doubles gold medal.
The Japanese women’s team, who won the silver medal at London 2012 Olympic Games, will head into the 2014 World Championships without their best player Ai Fukuhara, who was forced to withdraw from the Championships due to injury.
Despite this, the number two seeded team will be confident of progressing to the quarter finals after receiving a relatively kind draw against Chinese Taipei, Hungary, Belarus, USA and Australia in Group B.
Kasumi Ishikawa commented: “Now the draw has been completed I feel excited. It now feels like the World Championships is close It won’t be easily to qualify for the next stage of the event, but I believe we can do it.
A variety of Japanese sport stars were on hand to assist with the draw. Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (former captain of Japanese football team), Ai Shibata (800m women’s free swimming gold medalist in Athens Olympics), Mika Suzuki (78kg women’s judo silver medalist in London Olympics) and Ryota Murata (middle class Boxing gold medalist in London Olympics) took turns to draw the teams.
The ZEN-NOH 2014 World Table Tennis Championships will be held in the Yoyogi National Gymnasium and the Tokyo Gymnasium between 28 April and 5 May 2014.
Interesting points from the draw
Men’s Group C
Portugal is the European country that has made the greatest strides in the past four years; they finished 11th in Dortmund 2012 World Championships but without Tiago Apolonia who was injured. They are in the same group as Japan; can they cause an upset? Also in the same group is France; for the last six years their boys have dominated the European Youth Championships. Have they graduated?
Men’s Group D
In Dortmund 2012 World Championships, Korea Republic and Chinese Taipei were in the same group; Korea Republic came back from 0-2 to win with Joo Saehyuk (KOR) saving match point after match point against Chen Chien-An (TPE).
Women’s Group B
Japan will be missing their top player Ai Fukuhara. Can Chinese Taipei, with a team that is young and unpredictable, or Hungary, with a great reputation, cause an upset?
Women’s Group C
Singapore’s team is in a transition phase, as only Feng Tianwei remains from Moscow 2010 World Championships where they won gold, and London 2012 Olympic Games where they won bronze.
Women’s Group D
In Moscow 2010 World Championships, Germany caused a sensation to beat Hong Kong in the quarterfinals. Hong Kong now has a new team, made up of: Lee Ho Ching, Doo Hoi Kem and Ng Wing Nam, all medalists at last month’s Qatar Open.
About the World Championships
The World Team Championships are held every two years, with the World Individual Championships occurring on alternate years.
120 men’s teams and 100 women’s teams from 125 countries will compete in Tokyo, which is a world record for the team event.
Each team can enter a maximum of five players and a minimum of three. The teams are split into five different divisions, based on their performance at the last team championships in 2012 and their current world ranking. The Championship Division, which will be competing for the medals are made up of 24 teams.
These 24 teams are split into four groups of six and play each other once in a round robin format. The top team from each group goes directly to the quarterfinals. The second and third placed teams and drawn against each other to play off for the final four places in the quarterfinals. —- Photo by ITTF