The UAE are likely to need to beat Nigeria and Australia to qualify for the World Team Classic Cup.
UAE facing an uphill task in table tennis
DUBAI // The UAE are likely to need to beat both Nigeria and Australia today to qualify for the World Team Classic Cup after a defeat to Canada in the Intercontinental Cup late last night. The 3-1 loss to Canada in the first of the round-robin matches Intercontinental Cup, which will see the winner qualify for a place in the main event, which is also taking place at the Al Nasr Sports Club in Dubai, leaves the UAE with a mountain to climb.
"Nigeria are stronger than Canada, so it will be a difficult game, but we will try our best," said Park Ji, the UAE coach. Rashid Omar, the UAE No 1 bounced back from a set down to win his match against Pierre-Luc Hinse but, showing signs of tiredness, lost his second to Xavier Therien. "I tried my best to win both my matches for the team, but this is sports and they are a better team," Omar said. "Even in the rankings, they are 45 in the world and we are 70. So obviously there is a big difference.
"He broke my rhythm. I tried to come back, but it was too late and he played some really good points. He knew where my shots will be. I think we represented the UAE well - not perfect, but well." Added Park Ji: "We had our chances with Omar leading 6-1 in the second set. But he changed his serve. I asked him to do it, but what I wanted him to do was different. He probably did not understand. Then he lost his rhythm and he lost.
"The Canadian player was playing really well, too. So we were just unlucky I guess." The UAE took the stage after a colourful opening ceremony that included the traditional dance performance and a breathtaking show by gymnasts. Omar then kept the celebrations going with a hard-fought win over Hinse. Jassem Mohd Linjawi, however, failed to keep the momentum going and was swamped 11-3, 11-5, 11-2 by Pradeeban Peter-Paul, Canada's No 1.
Linjawi crashed to a second consecutive defeat, partnering Ahmed Faisal, in a 7-11, 11-7, 4-11, 8-11 loss to Hinse and Xavier Therien. "Jassem [Linjawi] was tired because he went to school this morning and finished at 4pm," said Park Ji. "He came here after that and practised a little. If he had not gone to school, I am sure he would have done a lot better. I am happy with the overall performance of the team, but a little disappointed with the doubles."