by Simon Daish
Here’s a look at the six nations whose continental success landed them a passage to the men’s team draw in Tokyo.
Leading the way for Europe at the 2019 ITTF Team World Cup is Germany. Silver medallists at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships, Germany secured their place at the World Cup with an astonishing eighth men’s team title at the recent Liebherr 2019 European Championships in Nantes.
Germany will have lofty ambitions heading to Tokyo, the first task is surely to better their performance at the 2018 Team World Cup which saw them exit at the quarter-final hurdle – by no means a certainty to surpass but their squad selection gives them a strong chance.
As anticipated two table tennis giants in Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov board the plane to Japan while the ever-improving Patrick Franziska, Ruwen Filus and Ricardo Walther also make the trip.
Even if you’re only remotely attached to the professional table tennis scene you’ll be aware of the sporting behemoth that is China. Magnificent, gracious, unforgiving, it’s difficult to find a positive superlative that doesn’t match the DNA of China and you can expect to see it with your own eyes when the squad takes to Tokyo.
Dominance is a term that can be thrown around quite loosely at times but when referring to China’s record at the World Cup it’s very much an apt description. Across the 11 previous editions of the tournament, China has lifted the men’s team trophy at all but two of the events and is searching for an eighth consecutive success in November!
Just a simple glance at the player roster set to represent the nation is enough to justify their status of title favourites. World no.1 Xu Xin and World champion Ma Long join Fan Zhendong, Lin Gaoyuan and Liang Jingkun. Defending ITTF Team World Cup champions, gold medal successes at the 2018 World Team Championships and the 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Championships – the force that is Team China is simply unrelenting!
Victory over rivals Egypt at the final hurdle of the 2018 ITTF-African Championships handed Nigeria its ticket for the Team World Cup as Africa’s representative.
A quarter-finalist at the 2014 World Cup and history maker at Rio 2016 with his astonishing quarter-final finish, Nigeria has unsurprisingly turned to African superstar Quadri Aruna to lead the line in Tokyo. The 2019 African Games champion Olajide Omotayo also earns selection. Bode Abiodun, Segun Toriola and Azeez Solanke make up the rest of the squad.
Nigeria will be appearing at the event for the first time since 2010, so fans will be hoping to see the African nation grasp the opportunity with both hands. In 2013 Egypt shocked the world to claim Team World Cup bronze so rule out this Nigerian team at your peril!
A country renowned for its footballing excellence Brazil also boasts a pretty impressive force on the international table tennis stage, a statement it will be looking to double down on at the 2019 Team World Cup.
Star player Hugo Calderano absent from the squad, Gustavo Tsuboi will provide the experienced head for this ambitious Brazilian team which also includes two up-and-coming talents in 2019 Pan American champion Vitor Ishiy and Eric Jouti.
Crowned men’s team champions with a perfect record at the 2018 ITTF-Pan American Championships in the Chilean capital of Santiago, Brazil will be attempting to better its quarter-final finish achieved at last year’s World Cup – can they pull it off?
The Oceania continent will be pinning its men’s team competition hopes on Australia in Tokyo following a successful outing on home soil down under at the 2018 ITTF-Oceania Championships.
Kane Townsend, who was present at the 2018 Team World Cup, makes the squad with Dillion Chambers and Xavier Dixon completing the trio of players leading the Australian charge.
An early exit last year in London, the aim this time out is surely first and foremost to register a win. Entering the men’s team event as the lowest seeded nation, Australia’s task could prove a difficult one but you can be sure that the Aussie trio will give it their best shot.
Strictly speaking the United States didn’t qualify for the tournament as continental champions, however, the country’s spot at the event was confirmed through its performance at the 2018 ITTF Pan America Championships.
Runners-up to Brazil in Santiago, the United States heads to Tokyo with an exciting young line-up consisting of Kanak Jha, who recently won three medals at the 2019 Pan America Games, Zhang Kai and Feng Yijun.
Also present at the 2018 Team World Cup, arguably the standout moment for United States came against Hong Kong as Kanak Jha pulled off a sensational 3-0 victory over pen-hold specialist Wong Chun Ting. One year later can USA reach even greater heights?