Li Ching lashes umpire in Hong Kong's semi-final loss to Japan
Women's team coach criticises missed net call in a crucial decision which sees hosts reach final
Hong Kong women's team coach Li Ching criticised the umpire after watching his team lose in a thrilling semi-final to hosts Japan at the World Team Championships in Tokyo on Sunday night.
A 3-1 overall win was good enough to send the Japanese women into their first world team final since 1983, also in Tokyo.
That year they lost to China, who will, once again, be their opponents in the last hurdle on Monday.
Li accused the umpire of failing to pick up a net call in a crucial moment of the third match between Hong Kong's Ng Wing-nam and Sayaka Hirano.
Hirano's serve apparently hit the net before rolling to Ng's side, whose return went off the table and she lost the point at 8-8.
Ng then lost the game, allowing the Japanese to come from two games down to win the match 3-2.
"It was a very obvious call and I could not believe how the umpire could miss that," said Li, who was taking charge of the women's team for the first time at a world championships.
"But in the end I'm still very happy, not only because we won a bronze medal, but our young players proved they can play on the world stage and I am sure they will inspire more young Hongkongers."
Both Lee Ho-ching, who took the only point for Hong Kong last night, and Ng showed they had a great future by helping Hong Kong reach the semi-finals.
The 21 year-old Lee, who could not help crying after losing her second match 3-2 to Kasumi Ishikawa, said: "I had chances to win, but just could not take them. There is still a lot more for me to learn and I hope I can do better at the Asian Games."
In the other semi-final, China easily advanced with a 3-0 victory over Singapore even though their world number one player was on the bench.
Liu Shiwen, the world's No 1, watched her teammates Li Xiaoxia, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling duly record an easy victory over their Southeast Asian rivals.
The Singaporeans were the only recent team that had upset the Chinese when they met in the 2010 Moscow World Team Championships final with a 3-1 win. Liu was the player who dropped two matches in that best-of-five tie.
China will also be the favourites in the men's final against Germany today. German number one player Timo Boll expects a tough match and said: "You have to respect your opponents, so you have to play your best."