It’s semi-finals day of the WSF World Junior Men’s Team Championships in Nancy, France, as the last four teams bid for a shot at the title.
In the first semi-final, defending champions and No.1 seeds Egypt face No.3 seeds Pakistan. The two nations have a long history at the championships, with Egypt winning the title six times to Pakistan’s five.
While Egypt boast a 7-3 head-to-head record, with five of those coming in finals, Pakistan were victorious the the most recent meeting. That came in the 2016 final in Bielsko-Biała, Poland, when Pakistan ended a run of three consecutive Egyptian titles.
Both sides have looked in strong form in the teams format following premature exits in the individuals. Egypt, who are yet to drop a match, will go into the tie the fresher of the two teams, with the top seeds playing in a three-team pool in the first round and then having their quarter-final match with the USA cut short in the second match due to an injury to Avi Agarwal.
Pakistan, too, have won every match they have played so far, with the No.3 seeds cruising past Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Guyana in the pools stage before surviving a fightback from No.6 seeds India in yesterday’s quarter-final.
In the second semi-final, No.2 seeds England face No.4 seeds Malaysia. The two sides have met just three times before, and not since 2008, with England holding a slim 2-1 head-to-head record.
England will go into today’s match as the favourites after a straightforward quarter-final victory over a weakened Netherlands team and 3-0 wins against Kuwait, Korea and Australia in the pools stage. With Individuals Championship runner-up Finnlay Withington looking in strong form and eager to add a title to his silver medal, expect an exciting performance from the attack-minded England No.1.
Malaysia, meanwhile, may look to their seemingly unlimited reserves of determination to cause an upset. The No.4 seeds have had to fight a number of times to reach this stage, with a brilliant counter-attack by Joachim Chuah in a brutal quarter-final with France proving the difference in a 2-0 Malaysia win.
The Malaysia No.1 took a number of painful blows in the 77-minute battle yesterday, and his condition for today’s match could be a deciding factor.
Today also sees the 5-8 playoffs begin, as well as the resumption of the playoffs to determine the other final positions. Click here for the results of those matches, as well as squad rosters and match schedules.
Schedule: 2022 WSF Men’s World Junior Team Championship, semi-finals (20 August)