Olympic gold medallist Feryal Abdelaziz led Egypt to the final of the women’s team kumite competition as they set up a crunch clash with defending champions France at the Karate World Championships here today.
Egypt and France booked their places in Sunday’s (November 21) gold-medal bout in contrasting fashion on a dramatic day of team action.
The Egyptian side, spearheaded by the superb Abdelaziz, needed a last-minute waza-ari score – worth two – to beat 2018 world silver medallists Japan by virtue of scoring more points across the three bouts after the contest had finished level at 1-1.
France, seeking to retain the crown they clinched in Madrid three years ago, recovered from a scrappy start to overcome Montenegro 2-0 in the other semi-final.
Egypt, who have qualified four athletes for tomorrow’s individual finals, are bidding for a first world women’s team kumite title since 2014.
In the two bouts for bronze, Montenegro go up against Colombia and Italy meet Ukraine.
Serbia also left it late in the last four of the men’s tournament – where a new world champion was guaranteed after Iran withdrew from the event – as they edged out Uzbekistan 3-2.
Standing between Serbia and the World Championships gold medal are Italy, who squeezed past Turkey after amassing more points across their five bouts in a tense tie that ended 2-2.
Kazakhstan and Turkey are scheduled to contest the opening match for bronze, before Azerbaijan fight Uzbekistan.
The team kata competitions followed the form book as Japan and Spain will meet in the men’s and women’s gold-medal encounters on Sunday.
The women’s final will pit the two countries against each other for the third consecutive World Championships.
Japan, who remain on course for a hat-trick of successive titles in the event, topped their pool on 26.28 points.
Spain won their qualification group in the last phase of the elimination round on 28.26, just 0.02 shy of the Japanese.
Egypt will face Portugal and Italy go up against Peru for bronze.
It was a similar story of dominance for Japan and Spain in the men’s competition, despite neither team fielding their star name as Olympic and world champion Ryo Kiyuna and Damian Quintero, silver medallist at Tokyo 2020, were both absent.
Japan blew the rest of their group away with a performance which yielded 26.46 points, while Spain took top spot in their pool on 25.92 to ensure they will get the chance to avenge the defeat they suffered in the final on home soil in Madrid in 2018.
The bronze-medal matches will see Italy take on Morocco and France entertain Turkey.
Today could be the last time the team competitions are held in the same venue and at the same World Championships as the individual events.
The World Karate Federation is set to hold separate World Championships in individual and team disciplines under plans approved by its Congress this week.
The change could be implemented as early as 2023, when Budapest is due to host the World Championships.
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