by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Promotion gained was not the only issue; the manner of the promotion was the striking factor; Afshin Noroozi playing in his eighth World Team Championships, his 12th overall, was delighted with the achievement.
“I started playing in the World Championship in 2004 in Doha, Qatar. We have made several attempts to make it to the Championship Division but we never did. I am so happy that our dream has become a reality against the stiff opposition we faced in Halmstad. I think that it is a reward for the hard work the team has put in, coupled with the technical support from coach Jamil Lotfellahnasabi.” Afshin Noroozi
The crucial stage of the contest came in the third match of the fixture after Nima Alamian had lost to Kou Lei (11-7, 11-7, 12-10), before elder brother Noshad Alamiyan had levelled matters by overcoming Yaroslav Zhmudenko (11-9, 11-8, 3-11, 6-11, 11-8)
Afshin Noroozi trailed Yevhen Pryshchepa by two games to nil, before recovering to win the next three (8-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-8).
“I knew the importance of the third game because it was crucial for both teams and the match would surely decide the eventual winner. I led in the first game 5-1 but I lost it because I was under a lot of stress. I think losing the first game really impacted on my losing the second. I encouraged myself that I must try and win the match for the team. The advice from the coach really helped me to win the match. I am so happy being part of this team because I am not sure if I can still continue.” Afshin Noroozi
Now two-one ahead, Noshad Alamiyan returned to the table; in a most impressive manner he accounted for Kou Lei in four games (11-5, 1-11, 11-8, 11-9).
“Before the competition, we prepared very well and I am so happy that our efforts were not wasted in Sweden. We were united as a team and we were focused in all our matches. This is the biggest thing to have happened to Iran in table tennis and we will cherish it for a long time,” Noroozi Afshin
Mainstay of the success was Noshad Alamiyan; similar to Afshin Noroozi it was for him a special moment.
“I have never played against Kou Lei before but prior to the match, my coach told me to counter with my backhand top spin which I did and it worked for me. I made sure I used this counter carefully throughout the match; on several occasions I changed my service by imparting a lot of spin. Also I changed the direction of the play during rally. I am so happy that for the first time, we have qualified for the Championship Division. We wanted it badly and we trained hard for it in Iran before the competition. We really had good training under our coach and this really helped us to qualify. It is big news for all Iran that we will be playing in the Championships come 2020.” Noshad Alamiyan
In the corresponding contest in Men’s Division Two, Hungary represented by Bence Majoros, Adam Szudi and Nandor Ecseki recorded a three matches to two win against Slovakia’s Samuel Novota, Wang Yang and Alexander Valuch to reserve their place in the Championship Division.
Meanwhile, in Women’s Division Two, Spain and Turkey gained promotion to the Championship Division.
Notably, in the crucial contests, Turkey who selected Osge Yilmaz, Hu Melek and Betul Nur Kahraman recorded a three-one win in opposition to Italy’s Debora Vivarelli, Chiara Colantoni, Giorgia Piccolin.
At the same time by the same margin Spain with Maria Xiao, Galia Dvorak, Zhang Xuan on duty accounted for France Laura Gasnier, Pauline Chasselin and Audrey Zarif.