by Simon Daish
Having won their previous three matches 3-0 at the Championships in Cape Town there was very little to suggest that the No.2 seeds China shouldn’t make the final, but ultimately it was to be the third seeds Korea Republic who would go on to achieve that feat for the fifth time in the history of the tournament.
Cho Seungmin went into the tie yet to suffer defeat for Korea Republic at the 2016 event; by the conclusion of the semi-final against China that statistic was to remain intact as the 18-year-old claimed his second brace of wins in Cape Town.
The opening battle saw Korea Republic’s Cho Seungmin register a 3-1 victory over Yu Heyi (11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8) to give the Korean team the early lead, but two powerful displays from China’s Xu Haidong and Xu Yingbin against An Jaehyun (7-11, 11-13, 3-11) and Kim Daewoo (6-11, 7-11, 5-11) followed as the advantage switched sides to Team China who moved 1-2 ahead.
Neither one of Italy, Chinese Taipei nor Belgium had managed pick up anything more than 3-0 defeats to China in the previous rounds, but the Korea Republic players gave it their all and after Cho Seungmin levelled the tie with his fourth game win over Xu Haidong (11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7) Korea’s An Jaehyun pulled a wonderful victory out of the bag against Yu Heyi (11-9, 2-11, 12-10, 11-8) to give Korea Republic a place in the final.
“We had never beaten China before until the Asian Junior Championship in Thailand last September and since then our confidence has grown. Before the match, we knew we had the quality to beat the Chinese. I am so happy that we are able to repeat that feat again” – An Jaehyun (Korea Republic).
Japan will compete in the Boys’ Team final for the eighth occasion and will be looking to win the gold medal for the second time following their success against Chinese Taipei in the top half of the last four draw.
Despite a tense start to the World Junior Championships for the Japanese squad with two 3-2 victories required on day two, it has been an exact opposite experience for the nation on day three after the team of Tomokazu Hariomoto, Yuto Kizukuri and Yuki Matsuyama made it back-to-back 3-0 triumphs with wins over DPR Korea and Chinese Taipei guaranteeing a top two finish for Japan in South Africa.
Tomokazu Harimoto put Japan ahead in their last four encounter beating Chinese Taipei’s Huang Chien-Tu in four ends (13-11, 10-12, 11-9, 14-12), before Yuto Kizukuri and Yuki Matsuyama inflicted defeat upon Lin Yun-Ju (11-9, 13-11, 11-4) and Feng Yi-Hsin (11-7, 12-10, 6-11, 11-4) as Japan thundered to a comfortable 3-0 win.