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Wednesday, 08 April 2020

Expected to win

Defending Egyptian champions are projected to come out winners in the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship for the fifth time since 1999, reports Abeer Anwar

Abeer Anwar , Tuesday 10 Dec 2019
Egypt’s Squash team
Egypt’s Squash team
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Views: 147

The 26th edition of the championship, which takes place in Washington DC from 15-21 December, will be staged in the US for the first time in its 52-year history. Twenty-three nations will compete at Squash on Fire in the US capital.

Egypt, led by world No 1 Ali Farag and including Karim Abdel-Gawwad, Tarek Momen and Mohamed Abul Ghar – ranked three, four and eight respectively, in the world – reclaimed the trophy from five-time champions England in the 2017 championship in France after title success in 1999, 2009 and 2011.  Farag and Abdel-Gawwad were both members of the victorious 2017 team.

The final is expected to be an Egypt-England battle for the fourth time in a row.  Former world No 1 James Willstrop, 36, will be celebrating a record eighth successive appearance for England in the Washington championship after making his debut in 2003 and playing his part in three title-winning teams.

Hosts US, seeded in 13th place, will be making its 23rd consecutive appearance in the championships since 1973.

France is the third seed and will be keen to make up for its surprise failure to make the last four in 2017 – on home soil – for the first time since 1999. After a 14-month injury lay-off for former world No 1 and world champion Gregory Gaultier, the 36-year-old will be marking an event-record 10th successive appearance in the championships. Gaultier will be joined by Gregoire Marche, Mathieu Castagnet and Baptiste Masotti.

Germany is seeded to make the last four for the first time in 18 appearances in the event since 1981.   

The 2019 championship will also be marking the return of Nigeria and Singapore, who last battled for the men’s title in 1999 and 1997, respectively.

Since its launch in 1967 in Australia, the Men’s World Team Championships have been staged in 16 countries, but never before in the US.

The 23 teams will compete initially in six pools from 15-17 December, before progressing to the knockout stage from 18 December, through to the final on Saturday 21 December.

The full pool line-ups, including team seedings in brackets, are:

POOL A:    [1] Egypt, [12] Switzerland, [15] Canada
POOL B:    [2] England, [11] Wales, [14] Colombia, [23] Nigeria
POOL C:    [3] France, [10] Malaysia, [13] USA, [22] Republic of Korea
POOL D:   [4] Germany, [9] Scotland, [18] Ireland, [20] Singapore
POOL E:    [5] New Zealand, [8] Spain, [16] Argentina, [19] South Africa
POOL F:    [6] Hong Kong China, [7] Australia, [17] Jamaica, [21] Kuwait

Egypt’s opening match and first opening tie will be against Canada which is seeded 15th and is led by world No 82 Shawn Delierre. Delierre will face a tough challenge against top seeds Egypt, whose mighty squad boasts three players ranked in the PSA world top four.

The teams last met in the first round of the knockout stage of the 2013 championship in Mulhouse, France, as Egypt began the journey to their third successive final.

The other morning ties on Sunday 15 December will be Germany vs Ireland and Scotland vs Singapore.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 December, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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