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Gold for Asia in Hard Fought Final Against Spirited European Opposition
By: Richard Pettit / Ian Marshall

Yuto Muramatsu proved too secure in defence for all adversaries  Photo By: An Sung Ho

11/03/2010        2010 Global Cadet Challenge & Global Junior Circuit Finals (Click here to access this section)

Represented by China’s Zhou Linfeng, Japan’s Yuto Muramatsu and Korea’s Jang Woo Jin; Asia won the Boys’ Team title at the ITTF Global Cadet Challenge in Hyderabad, India on Wednesday 3rd November 2010 beating Africa in the semi-finals and Europe in the final.

Undoubtedly, there is progress being made in Africa and in both North America and in Latin America but the balance of power still remains with the traditionally strong table tennis continents of Asia and Europe.

It is a fact that was evident in the Boys’ Team event. Both semi-finals saw a three-nil score line posted.

Comfortable Semi-Final Wins
Europe with Italy’s Leonardo Mutti, France’s Tristan Flore and Hungary’s Tamas Lakataos in action, posted a three-nil semi-final win over the African outfit of Tunisia’s Thameur Mamia, Egypt’s Shady Magdy and Nigeria’s Azzez Ogundale.

Similarly, Zhou Linfeng, Yuto Muramatsu and Jang Woo Jin showed no mercy when confronting the Pan American team of Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, Brazil’s Sebastian Aguirre and Charles Deng of the United States.

A three-nil score line was the order of proceedings.

Zhu Linfeng and Yuto Muramatsu Unbeaten
However, when the two continents steeped in the history of table tennis met, it was a closely fought contest; three matches to two in favour of Asia was the final outcome.

Backbone of the Asian success was Zhu Linfeng, he beat both Tristan Flore and Tamas Lakatos with the defensive skills of Yuto Muramatsu proving too secure for Leonardo Mutti.

However, for Jang Woo Jin, he experienced problems; he was beaten by both Tamas Lakatos and Tristan Flore.

Predictable Outcome
“I think it was expected; the Asian team are always very strong in this tournament, especially this year when we have very strong representation from China, Korea and Japan”, said Liu Yi Asia the Asia Team Manager. “It’s quite normal for us today; the competition has been quite close with both the European teams, boys and girls, which made for very interesting and exciting finals.”

Once again Asia was dominant but Lui Yi did believe that globally there was progress.

“Certainly, the standard of other countries has improved tremendously in the past few years, particularly the traditionally weaker continents”, she continued. “The improved professionalism of the coaching is creating a lot of improvement.”

Undoubtedly, that is the situation but if there is one part of the world that prepares thoroughly, it is the countries in Asia.”
“The team wasn’t able to have a concentrated training camp before this trip”, explained Liu Yi. “However, the individual associations have done a lot of work to help the players so they can perform very well; they each know what they have to do to prepare.”

The preparation was different to that of Europe who all met in Sri Lanka, the previous week.

“In Asia it’s different because we have more domestic competitions; also the girls from Hong Kong have to attend school and the Chinese players are committed to the Chinese professional leagues, even at this young age”, explained Liu Yi. “These factors make it difficult to have a training camp before coming to this tournament.”

Praise for Europeans
Nevertheless, the Asian team succeeded and Liu Yi was full of praise for the Europeans.

“I do really appreciate the team spirit of the European players; not just this year, it has always been like that”, she added. “I would say we perhaps lack a little team spirit mainly because of language barriers, but some of it can also be put down to the difference characteristics and culture between Asia and Europe.”

Language Problems
The different languages does present a problem

“Yes, it s always a problem, this year we are lucky in the girls’ team as everyone speaks Chinese”, said Liu Yi. “This isn’t the case for boys team as we have two coaches; one Japanese and one Korean this means the Chinese player is on his own and just has to use his experience; all of them will all play in the Asian Junior Championships.

European Team Manager Pleased
A naturally delighted Liu Yi and Lilamani de Soysa, the European Team Manager was equally pleased.

“They played very well; the Asian team is always extremely strong but for a while we did dream of a gold medal; it was possible, today anything was possible”, she said. “I’m happy, the boys’ team nearly lost to India but, since then we have got better and better; the boys were good they really became a team and the girls played well but, in the final especially, the levels were not equal and we didn’t have the strength in depth.”

Attain Same Level as Asia
The task is to catch Asia, can it be done?

“Train like the Chinese; morning, noon and night; technically we have improved a lot but we still fear the Chinese and we have to overcome that mental block”, explained Lilamani de Soysa. “We now go to China, we train with the Chinese, we know how they train which was not possible before because China was so closed, the levels are evening out gradually; also the Chinese also want this to happen to make it a more competitive spot at world level.”

Delighted with Girls
A good performance from the boys and Lilamani de Soysa was also delighted with the efforts of the girls.

“They got to the final and they played well; Bernadette Szocs was a real fighter and showed great talent; Olga Bliznet also did a great job and was very solid”, said Lilamani de Soysa. “Tristan Flore was fantastic today and I’m very also very proud of Tamas, he was brilliant in the first match against Asia.”

Full of Pride
Lilamani de Soysa was very proud of her team and was in a very positive mood.

“It’s been a great experience; the pre-training camp in Sri Lanka was fantastic and two silver medals is a great achievement”, she concluded. “We are all very proud.”

Lilamani de Soysa and Liu Yi both have every right to be proud; their players excelled.

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