// Can Argentina upset the odds; then stalwart can bid farewell on world’s biggest stage - International Table Tennis Federation


27 Oct 2019

Traditional sporting rivals; throughout the world there are those opponents that have met time and time again, the outcome being that when they confront each other there is an extra edge to proceedings, in South America it is Brazil versus Argentina.

On Sunday 27th October they will meet in the men’s team contest at the 2019 Latin America Team Qualification tournament in Lima to determine which nation will reserve the one available place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; for one man in particular, victory would have a very special meaning.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

However, it will have to be victory against the odds; the Brazilians are the clear favourites. The man in question is Argentina’s 41 year old Pablo Tabachnik, a lawyer by profession who competed in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and then followed suit in 2004 in Athens and then 2008 in Beijing.

A return to the Olympic arena two decades after his debut in the multi-sport spectacular; that would really be something for the player who secured silver in the men’s team event at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games earlier this year in August alongside Gaston Alto and Horacio Cifuentes. Notably in a 3-0 penultimate round win against Cuba, Pablo Tabachnik beat Andy Pereira, in a 3-2 defeat in the final when facing the United States, he overcame Nicholas Tio.

“I felt confident when I played at the Pan American Games; confidence plays a major part in sport, we have a plan against Brazil but we must play in a confident manner. They are now highly ranked internationally, they have moved to a new level but they are expected to win; if we can win the doubles they will be under pressure and we will have a little chance.” Pablo Tabachnik

A stalwart of the national team throughout this century and earlier, Pablo Tabachnik is in the twilight years of his career.

“I now just play for the glory but a win here, a fourth Olympic Games and then announce my retirement, that would be perfect.” Pablo Tabachnik.

Making progress

The voice of experience, for Gaston Alto and Horacio Cifuentes; the situation is somewhat different. Brazil has moved to a new level but is that not the same for the Argentine duo?

Notably this year Horacio Cifuentes won the under 21 men’s singles titles at the ITTF Challenge Series tournaments in Spain and in Paraguay; furthermore, he was the runner up in the men’s singles event at the Pan American Championships.

“I’ve been in a good situation this year for training, playing in Spain and practising in Oporto in Portugal at the same centre as Marcos Freitas. It is important for me to play in Europe to raise my level; I think every aspect of my game has improved, it’s difficult to highlight one aspect, for sure I’m mentally stronger.” Horacio Cifuentes.

Progress for Horacio Cifuentes who is well aware of the calibre of Brazil; significantly at the Pan American Championships, both Horacio Cifuentes and Gaston Alto lost to Vitor Ishiy, Horacio Cifuentes in the semi-finals, Gaston Alto in the final.

“I think we have no more than a 15 per cent chance of beating Brazil; with Hugo Calderano in their team it’s very difficult. Also Vitor Ishiy is playing well this year. Maybe if we can win the doubles, it will give us a chance.” Horacio Cifuentes.


Make no mistake, the doubles is a strength for Argentina, even though on the opening day in Lima, Gaston Alto and Pablo Tabachnik lost to Nicolas Burgos and Gustavo Gomez in the contest against Chile.

In 2014 Gaston Alto and Pablo Tabachnik won the men’s doubles title at the Latin American Championships in the Dominican Republic, more recently Gaston Alto and Horacio Cifuentes emerged successful at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Polish Open.

“We won at the Pan American Championships; that gave us a great deal of confidence. I partnered Pablo for many years, he’s a left hander, now playing with Horacio, a right hander like me, it is different. We started playing together two years ago, certainly I think as a result by backhand has improved. Play well tomorrow and we have a chance.” Gaston Alto.

The contest between Brazil and Argentina is scheduled to start at 8.00pm (local time) on Sunday 27th October, the concluding day of play in Lima.

2019 Latin American Team Qualification Pablo Tabachnik

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Day 3 - 2019 Latin American Team Qualification