x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

More training needed for UAE table tennis players

Park Ji-hyun, the UAE national table tennis coach says his team needs longer training sessions.

Rashid Omar, the UAE NO 1, playing against Alex Swanson of Australia. Pawan Singh / The National
Rashid Omar, the UAE NO 1, playing against Alex Swanson of Australia. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Park Ji Hyun, the UAE national team coach, will need to demand more training time with his players if the country are to achieve success at the Gulf or Arab level. 

The South Korean saw his team follow up a defeat to Canada on Tuesday with narrow losses to Nigeria and Australia yesterday in the Intercontinental Cup at Al Nasr Sports Club.

Nigeria won the four-team event and they will take their place in the World Team Cup Classic which is taking place at the same venue this week. Hyun struggled to assemble his full squad for training ahead of the tournament with players such as Jassem Mohammed Linjawi busy with his studies and Rashed Mohammed unable to get time off from work. 

Linjawi attended classes on the day of the UAE's first match against Canada and joined the team just before the opening ceremony. Visibly tired, he lost all three matches - two singles and the doubles. Mohammed was working until Sunday and only joined the team afterwards.

"It was really difficult to have proper training because the time was too short," Hyun said. "One player has to go to college, one player has to go to work. So it was very difficult. If I get much more training opportunities I can make a much stronger team. 

"I know it is very difficult to train like the China or South Korea teams. But if there is a big event, I hope to get a minimum of one month training with my players, from morning to evening."

Rashid Omar was the only member of the team who had sufficient training time for the tournament and it was reflected in his record; he won five of his six matches, against opponents ranked much higher than him. 

The UAE No 1 also agreed his teammates suffered from a lack of training. "The players did their best, that's for sure," he said. 

"But you cannot change your level in one day or night. You need to improve mentally. These are the steps you have got to follow to reach a higher level."

It will come as little consolation to the team that Lateef Sunmola, the Nigeria coach, said his team were fortunate to beat the hosts. "We were lucky. Nigeria were so lucky to beat them." 

arizvi@thenational.ae