DUBAI // Egypt look on course to win the Sheikh Rashid International Tournament after winning their first three matches, but Sherif Hamdy, their coach, has warned against any premature celebrations.
Having defeated Australia 3-1 and China 3-0, the Egyptians beat the UAE 3-0 with scores of 25-19, 25-18, 25-23 last night to lead the points table of the six-nation tournament, played on a round-robin league format. They have to play Iran and Pakistan in their next matches, and Hamdy has urged his players to stay focused.
"No one can say they have won anything till the final match," he said. "Maybe, we are able to secure the championship in the next match, but we don't know.
"There could be injuries, but I hope not. The players might not be at their best. Another thing is that I am trying to give chances to my second six players because we are choosing our squad, the final 12 players, for the African Championship.
"So we will be trying out different things in the next two matches, but the objective will be to win the title."
It was third defeat for the UAE, who have lost to Pakistan (1-3) and Australia (0-3). The hosts, however, put up a dogged performance, and Abdullah Saif topped the individual scoring charts with 10 points (eight spikes and two serves). Ahmed Aldeeb had nine spikes and Amer Golam seven.
"Egypt have won three consecutive African Championships and they are the toughest team in this tournament," Ahmed Zakaria, the UAE coach, said. "So I appreciate the fight our boys put up and it gives us a lot of confidence going forward. If we can continue at the same level, I expect the team to do well at the Gulf Championships in Bahrain next month."
With an eye on the upcoming Asian Men's Championship in Iran, Pakistan tried their youngsters out against China earlier in the day and lost 14-25, 19-25, 16-25. It was their second defeat in three games, following the 2-3 loss to Iran on day two.
"We wanted to give our younger players some match time before the Asian Championship," said Mazhar Hussain, the Pakistan coach. "I am pleased with their performance considering that China are the best team in Asia."