From the start of the team event in Tunis, it was clear that the absence of Nigeria may have paved the way for the Egypt to rule over other teams in the competition as they easily walked into the final without dropping any match.
Even when the host – Tunisia wanted to prove a threat to Egypt, the met a strong Egyptian side and played second fiddle to them in three of the six events.
That Nigeria’s absence gave them an edge was confirmed by Egypt’s Karim Elhakem, who admitted that it was a bit easy winning the title this year compared to the strong opposition they faced against a star-studded Nigerian side in 2016.
And as the most successful country at the ITTF African Junior Championships, Egypt on Tuesday April 11 confirmed their supremacy in the team event after claiming the six event titles in Tunis.
The climax of the tournament was the final of the boys’ team event between Egypt and host – Tunisia with the two countries producing 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”, said Egypt’s Karim Elhakem.
After 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”, a disappointed Tunisia’s Nathael Hamdoun said.