by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin were the selected names and they duly responded to the captain’s orders; they recorded a three-nil victory in opposition to Korea’s Jang Woojin, Lee Sangsu and Jeong Sangeun.
Notably there was no place in the Korean line-up for Jeoung Youngsik; he has a wrist injury but anticipates competing in the Men’s Singles.
Jang Woojin and Ma Long were the first gladiators into the arena; of the Korean trio, he gave the best performance. He had chances in the first game, holding one game point; he dominated the second before losing the third by the very narrowest of margins.
Alas from a Korean perspective he made a bad start in the fourth game; he lost the first four points, his confidence disappeared into the Wuxi afternoon air.
Next on court in Korean colours came Lee Sangu; he made a lightning start in opposition to Fan Zhendong; in the first game he led 7-3 but then won just one more point as Fan Zhendong imposed his authority to emerge victorious in five games (11-8, 11-4, 12-10).
China in the driving seat, Xu Xin brought matters to a conclusion; he beat a spirited Jeong Sangeun in three straight games (11-9, 11-6, 12-10).
Thus for the 21st time, China prevailed in the Men’s Team event, they have always reached the final, finishing runners up on two occasions, the first in the initial staging of the tournament in 1972 in Beijing when losing to Japan and in 1996 in Tianjin.
Defeat in Tianjin; now in Wuxi should Korea have selected the coach to play? Kim Taeksoo was the advisor on duty; in 1996 he was a member of the winning team alongside Kang Heechan, Kim Daeyun and a young Oh Sangeun.
Furthermore note three names who were in the Chinese Team, Kong Linghui, Liu Guoliang and Ma Lin; all Olympic champions!
Was that team stronger than the selection of 2017?