7:09 am
23 Apr 2024

Egypt Retain World Cup Crown In India

18 Jun 2023

Retaining the title they won in the previous championship 12 years ago, Egypt were crowned the SDAT WSF World Cup champions after coming from behind to beat Malaysia in front of a capacity crowd at Express Avenue Mall in the Indian city of Chennai.

The mixed team event, which had not been played since 2011 - also in Chennai - was brought back this year with a number of exciting changes, including gender-balanced teams of two men and two women, scoring games to seven, and sudden death tiebreaks when scores are 6-6.

The top seeds' title defence got off to the worst possible start against the No.4 seeds, who they beat 3/1 in the Pool stage of the tournament.

Malaysia's second string woman Xin Ying Yee - who lost 3/2 to Kenzy Ayman earlier in the week - gave her team a 1/0 lead with a straight games win over Ayman, with the 19-year-old saving four game balls and converting her own match ball in the third game.

World No.21 Aly Abou Eleinen restored parity for the top seeds with a battling 3/0 win over world No.134 Darren Pragasam in the men's first string match.

This meant that, if Fayrouz Aboelkheir could avenge her Pool stage 3/2 defeat to Aira Azman, Egypt would have an unassailable lead due to points being won by first string players being worth double.

To the delight of the Egyptian team, Aboelkheir was calmness personified, playing more of the clinical squash that saw her shock Satomi Watanabe in the semi-final to take a 2/0 lead against Azman.

The Malaysian came back brilliantly in the third game, though, saving a championship ball to keep Malaysia in the contest with a 7-6 win in the third game.

The 17-year-old came close to the unthinkable in the fourth game, when she saved five World Cup balls to force another sudden death tiebreak, but could not hold on, with Aboelkheir sinking to her knees as a stroke decision in her favour meant that she and her teammates would put their names alongside 2011 winners and squash royalty Raneem El Welily, Ramy Ashour, Karim Darwish and Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Afterwards, Aboelkheir said: "It wasn't an easy match! Last time with Aira it was [very tough] and she beat me 3/2. This time, I had to keep my focus. In the last match [against Azman] I had a really bad day and put the team in a difficult position, so now knew I had to play really well and I'm really proud of each and every one of us, we fought really hard to get this title."

Before the final, the 5th and 7th place playoffs took place at the Indian Squash Academy. Losing semi-finalists India and Japan shared the bronze medal

Australia came from behind to beat Colombia to finish fifth and achieve their seeding. Despite the defeat, Colombia beat their seeding by two places by finishing 6th.

No.7 seeds South Africa overcame No.6 seeds Hong Kong China to claim 7th place.

At the prize ceremony, the Egypt, Malaysia, India and Japan teams were presented with medals and trophies by M.K. Stalin, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who congratulated all the teams who had competed and thanked the World Squash Federation (WSF) for choosing India to host the SDAT Squash World Cup.

WSF President Zena Wooldridge added her congratulations and thanked the teams for an incredible week of squash, as well as everyone the Squash Rackets Federation of India for their work in hosting and organising the event.

She added: "I think you'll agree we've witnessed an outstanding week of squash in Chennai. The new format has produced some really exciting squash and I hope you've enjoyed the whole experience and hospitality here in Chennai.

"I'd like to extend a very special thank you to the government of Tamil Nadu and the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu.

"We wouldn't have had this event without you and our grateful thanks for the exceptional quality."

The next major event on the WSF calendar is the 2023 WSF World Junior Championships, which take place in Melbourne, Australia 18-29 July.