by Simon Daish, interviews conducted by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Media Officer
Awaiting the Egyptian squad in the Junior Boys’ Team final was the host nation Tunisia, as an eagerly anticipated encounter between the two countries in the category produced an exciting duel on the table.
Youssef Abdel-Aziz put in a standout performance for Egypt, claiming a brace of victories over Tunisia’s Nathael Hamdoun (12-14, 11-6, 14-12, 11-5) and Omar Ammous (7-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-4), while Karim Elhakem also chipped in with a win against Ammous (2-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8) as Egypt produced a 3-1 triumph.
“Last year we defeated Nigeria 3-1 in the final and I did not really play very well in the match. This year, we played very well from the start but in the third match, my teammate lost for them to win a match. But at the end, we were able to retain the title this year. We are happy and hope that we can win more titles in the singles and doubles”, Karim Elhakem.
Despite missing out on winning the title Tunisia’s Nathael Hamdoun believes that the hosts can take heart from the performances registered at the tournament, and is looking forward to the rest of the event.
“Generally we played very well in this competition, but in the final against Egypt I could not find a solution to the service of Youssef Abdel-Aziz. This made the match difficult for me. Also I made some mistakes particularly in the last game of one match when I missed topspins. I think they deserve the victory because they played better than us. We hope we can do well in other events at the championships”, Nathael Hamdoun.
Egypt also experienced victory over Tunisia in both the Junior Girls’ Team and Under 21 Boys’ Team finals, as the two winners trophies were retained by last year’s champions.
Marwa Alhodaby picked up a positive result against Abir Haj Salah (11-9, 19-17, 9-11, 11-6) in the opening match of the Junior Girls’ Team final, before Sarah Abousetta and Mariam Alhodaby completed the job for Egypt with respective successes against Fadwa Garci (15-13, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-1) and Manel Baklouti (11-5, 11-3, 10-12, 11-4).
Over in the Under 21 Boys’ Team final Aly Ghallab put in a heroic showing as Egypt saw off Tunisia by a 3-1 scoreline.