Tokyo, Japan, November 30, 2007 — At the ninth time of asking, Egypt earned their first victory in the men’s World Cup by coming from a set down on Friday to beat Korea 21-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-22.
Man of the match Abdalla Ahmed inspired the North Africans alongside Mohamed Gabal as the wild-card Koreans dropped to 1-8 at Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo.
It was neck-and-neck almost all the way to the second technical timeout in the first set, but the superior spiking of crowd favorite Moon Sung-Min and Lee Sun-Kyu made sure the Koreans made it to the break leading by two points.
Korea then made a break for it and a brilliant block from Lee made it 18-14, but Egypt pulled back to within two with a brilliant ace from Ahmed.
Moon spiked on the right for 20-17 and the Koreans were keeping at least a two-point lead. An excellent ace from Song Byung-Il then brought set point before a wayward spike from captain Hamdy Awad gave Korea the clinching point.
Egypt came back at the start of the second set and despite some suspect serving managed to arrive at the first TTO leading by four.
They’d finally found their form and Ahmed was working well at the net. The North Africans reached the second TTO seven points ahead with a spike from Mohamed Elnafrawy getting them there.
Gabal crashed in a spike on the right for 18-10 before Ahmed tipped over for 19-11. The odd point for Korea aside — Ha Kyoung-Min snapped in an excellent spike or two — it looked like the Egyptians’ set all the way.
Mohamed Badawy spiked on the left for set point and Awad smashed through the blockers to finish things off.
Elnafrawy slapped in a spike from the middle to put the Egyptians one ahead at the first TTO of the third set, but it was again point-for-point in the early stages.
Some excellent blocking, not least from Hossam Shaarawy and Ahmed, gave the Egyptians the edge heading into the second TTO and they got there leading by five points.
The Koreans rallied slightly but Awad’s punishing spike made it 18-14 and at 19-14 Korea called a TO. But it didn’t help as Egypt closed out the set.
Badawy spiked in from the left, a handling foul gave set point and Elnafrawy’s block at the net was good enough for the set.
The Koreans came back in the fourth set and went into the first TTO leading by one after Moon dinked over on the right.
Gabal equalized with a spike on the left and he crashed in a stunning ace to put the Egyptians ahead for the first time in the set at 11-10. They doubled that lead, forcing the Koreans to call a TO.
The Egyptians were hanging onto the lead, though, and Gabal’s huge spike from the right kept them two ahead at the second TTO.
The North Africans stretched the lead to three at 18-15 when Elnafrawy smashed into space and Egypt could now sense victory.
The Koreans were pushing all the way but Egypt held firm and Shaarawy made it 20-17 with an excellent block.
That was that. Badawy crashed down for 22-18, Shaarawy made it 23-20 and when a Korean block went wide, destiny was in the North Africans’ hands.
Captain Awad stepped up to spike home.
Cue delirious celebrations from Egypt. They’d finally won one.