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Preview U66kg: Hifumi Abe poised to win gold, Israel has two chances
20 Sep 2018 22:10
The U66kg division is a huge one with many players in each pool. With 75 judoka the field is amazing. Only Paris 2011 had more (artificial) participants. It’s a quality field with the top players. But the absolute eyecatcher is Hifumi Abe of Japan.
Pool C is where top favorite Abe (JPN) is fighting. In his pool is Zantaraia (UKR) who is probably the main obstacle he faces there. Although Abe easily demolished Zantaraia at last year's World's, the cagey cat from Ukraine should never be underestimated. He could pull off an upset though the smart money has to be on Abe.
In Pool D, we have Margvelashvili (GEO) who has Chibana (BRA), Puliaev (RUS), An Baul (KOR) and Shershan (BLR) to contend with. We think An will prevail.
In Pool A, the top seed is Flicker (ISR) who has been in really good form this year. In his pool though are Gomboc (SLO) and Minkou (BLR) who could give him a good challenge. But we will never forget Nijat Shikhalizada of Azerbaijan and we think he is the man for the ¼ final.
Pool B's top seed is his compatriot Shmailov (ISR) who is likely to get through although Ganbold (MGL) is in his pool. Daniel Jean is a dark horse and first opponent of Shmailov.
For the first semifinal we think Flicker will get through. The other semifinal is harder to say. Abe and An fought once, in 2014 at the World Junior Championships. There, Abe won. What will happen in 2018? We think Abe will get through.
It’s Israel vs Japan, perhaps Flicker and Abe. Both have not fought before but if it comes down to this match up, we think Abe will be the one who gets the gold.
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Houd Zourdani (ALG)
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