Saturday, February 24, 2024

World Team Table Tennis Championship: Nigeria, Egypt Get Tricky Draws

Africa’s table tennis powershouses – Nigeria and Egypt have been handed tricky groups in the men and women events of the 2024 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) taking place in Busan, South Korea.

The draw for the eagerly awaited WTTC Finals Busan 2024 was unfolded on Tuesday January 16, at the Busan e-Sports Arena, signifying a milestone as Korea Republic hosts this event for the first time.

Anticipation surges as the stage is now set.  In a month exactly, from 16 to 25 February, the pinnacle of table tennis talent from across the globe will vie for the prestigious title.

All eyes were already on Busan as the battle lines were drawn. Fans turned out in force for the occasion and over 3.5m viewers tuned in to the broadcast to see just where their favourite teams would land.

The stellar audience hints at the atmosphere that waits around the corner when the matches get underway next month.

Nigeria’s men’s team has been drawn in Group 5 alongside Asian giants – Japan and Chinese Taipei as well as Czech Republic and Madagascar.

The women’s team has Germany, Slovakia, Poland and Mexico to contend with in Group 3 as the top eights from the tournament get automatic tickets to Paris 2024 Olympic Games in France.

African champion Egypt will battle in Group 8 of the men’s event against Portugal, Romania, Iran and Thailand while their ladies’ team will slug it out against European teams – France, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Croatia in Group 8 as well.

Algeria has been drawn in Group 4 in the men and women events as the men contend with France, Australia, Denmark and Austria while their women’s contingent will battle Chinese Taipei, USA, Thailand and Chile.

Following the withdrawal of Tunisia’s men and women teams as well as Mauritius’ women team, South Africa was listed among the contenders and they have been pitched against Japan, Brazil, Luxembourg, and Iran in Group 2 of the women’s event.

The defending champions, China, occupy the top-seeded positions in both the men’s and women’s team events as the Women’s Teams of China is placed in Group 1 with Hungary, India, Spain and Uzbekistan.

While Hungary has a long history of winning medals in the championships, they will be hard-pressed to get past the defending champions.

Led by World No.1 Sun Yingsha, Team China is chasing their 23rd title in the event and are frontrunners to top the podium once again.

Both the Men’s and Women’s Teams events will see eight groups of five teams looking to advance to the knockout rounds.

Each match is decided by best of five singles matches, with individual matches being best of five games. Each group will play a round-robin, meaning each team faces off against the other four teams in their group.

After the round-robin is completed, the top three teams from each group advance to the knockout phase. Twenty four teams advance in total, getting a final shot at the title. Group winners will receive seeded positions, with the rest drawn into the knockout rounds in a way that ensures teams from the same group would not meet again in the first round.

As the countdown to Busan 2024 enters its final month, fans worldwide can eagerly anticipate the world’s top teams vying for the coveted Swaythling and Corbillon Cups.

Across ten days of intense table tennis action, the event will not only showcase unparalleled skill but also mark a historic chapter in the Korea Republic’s legacy.

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