HONG KONG'S women's team will have to take the long route into the quarter-finals of the World Table Tennis Championships, having been beaten by Germany and North Korea in crucial Group C games in Manchester. The territory, bronze medallists at the last tournament in 1995, were beaten 3-2 by the Germans - who finished the round undefeated after their 3-1 victory over Taiwan last night, thereby booking the automatic quarter-final berth. Chai Po-wa was successful in both her visits to the table against the Germans but Chan Tan-lui lost twice, going down in the decider against European champion Nicole Struse, a game which went the full distance. Chai, the territory's top-ranked player, beat Struse 21-18, 21-13 in the first match, before Germany went ahead with Jie Schoepp defeating Chan 21-17, 13-21, 21-11, and Elke Schall overcoming Wong Ching 22-20, 21-7. Chai levelled the score with a 21-11, 21-19 win over Schoepp. In the decider, Chan failed to hold her nerve against Struse despite winning the first game 21-14. She lost the remaining two 9-21, 16-21. Earlier in the tournament, Hong Kong had swept to wins over Taiwan, Italy and the United States. But early this morning (Hong Kong time) the territory proved no match for the North Koreans, losing 3-0. The win took the North Koreans through to the last 16 and the loss meant Hong Kong moved through to the last 32. They now have to play two matches before qualifying for the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, perennial winners and outright favourites China moved within striking distance of a quarter-final place with a 3-1 win over closest group rivals Japan. There was a slight hiccup in the Chinese onslaught, with world number four Yang Ying suffering a surprise defeat by 75th-ranked Rika Matsuoka. But it only delayed the inevitable, as China are on their way to taking the title for the 11th time in 12 championships. Chinese coach Lu Yuansheng afterwards accused Japan of cowardice for not fielding their best player, Chire Koyama, formerly He Zhili, a member of China's 1985 world championship-winning team.