by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Notably in both events Japan and China occupy the respective top two seeded positions. In the Boys’ Team competition Japan faces DPR Korea, whilst China opposes Belgium, the one team to reach the last eight that was required to compete on the first day of action in the initial phase of the tournament.
A quite prodigious task for Belgium and should they cause the mother of all upsets, they will face the winners of the contest between Korea Republic and Romania in the semi-finals. In the adjacent half of the draw France opposes Chinese Taipei.
Meanwhile in the Girls’ Team event, in the round of the last eight China confronts Chinese Taipei, Japan opposes Romania, the winners of the Junior Girls’ Team event at the European Youth Championships staged earlier this year in Zagreb.
It is the best of Asia versus the best of Europe but with the likes of Miu Hirano, the winner of the Seamaster 2016 Women’s World Cup and Mima Ito, bronze medallist in the Women’s Team event at the recent Rio 2016 Olympic Games, it is a tough test for the likes of Adina Diaconu and Andreea Dragoman, who lead the Romanian challenge.
Furthermore, the fourth seeds, the Romanians suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of France, the fifth seeds, in the second stage; likewise, Hong Kong, the sixth seeds, caused an upset by beating Korea Republic, the third seeds.
The question posed is as to whether France and Hong Kong can repeat that form at the quarter-final stage and reserve a podium finish. In the same half of the draw as Japan and Romania, Hong Kong meets Russia; in the opposite half France confronts Korea Republic.
Play commences at 9.30am with the quarter-final fixtures in the Girls’ Team event, followed by the last eight of the Boys’ Team competition at 11.30am; the semi-finals will be played later in the day at 6.00pm and 8.00pm respectively. All times are local; Cape Town is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.