S. Korea table tennis coach hoping for miracle vs. mighty China


With South Korea preparing to take on the mighty China next at the ongoing table tennis world championships, head coach Joo Sae-hyuk said Friday it would take nothing short of a miracle to get past the world’s top-ranked team.

South Korea set up a semifinal date with China at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan, after beating Denmark 3-1 in the quarterfinals on Friday.

The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center in the southeastern city.

China features the world’s top-five players: Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin, Ma Long, Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan. In contrast, South Korea doesn’t have a top-10 player, with Jang Woo-jin being the highest-ranked member at No. 14.

Joo tried to strike a positive note, saying his players have been on a good roll and they will be ready for the battle.

“Obviously, we’d love to get to the final,” Joo said. “Our players are playing really well and I feel more optimistic than p
essimistic. Honestly, I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”

The coach admitted, though, a lot would have go right for his team to pull off the upset.

“We’ll need our guys to be on the top of their game, and we’ll need the Chinese players to hit a few balls into the net,” Joo said with a wry smile after the Denmark win. “And maybe our home fans will make so much noise that Chinese players will make mistakes. I wonder how the match will play out when these things all come together. Maybe it will lead to a miracle.”

China defeated Japan 3-0 in the quarterfinals on Thursday, but Fan, Wang and Ma each dropped a game in their singles matches.

Asked if those results gave South Korea a little more hope, Joo said, “They will run into trouble from time to time, but they always seem to overcome those issues. That’s what makes China so strong.”

By advancing to the semifinals, South Korea has secured at least a bronze medal. There is no third-place match at the world championships, and two losers of the s
emifinals will each take home a bronze medal.

“It has not been easy for us to get this far,” Joo said. “I am really pleased. I feel like we’ve accomplished our job here.”

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