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Preview men U73kg: Can the Azeri beat Hashimoto and An
21 Sep 2018 22:30
The category U73kg has been dominated by Japan for the last decade. With Hashimoto as only choice in the team, so without Ono, it is Hashimoto who should showcase his best judo and prolong the world title which will give him a big lead in the race for Tokyo. But there are lots of good athletes in this category such as An-Chang-Rim.
Soichi Hashimoto (JPN) is in Pool A and it doesn't look like there's anybody who can stop him except maybe Akil Gjakova (KOS) who is a dark horse here.
In Pool B, we have Odbayar Ganbaatar (MGL) and Hidayet Heydarov (AZE). With home ground advantage, the latter has a good chance of topping the pool.
Pool C has many strong players in the form of Rustam Orujov (AZE), Victor Scvortov (UAE), Olympic champion Fabio Basile (ITA), An (KOR) and outsider Arthur Margelidon (CAN). Top prospects are Orujov and An Chang-Rim. Orujov has home ground advantage but An is in top form. We think it might be An that gets through.
Pool D has Tommy Macias (SWE) as the top seed. The other strong player here is Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO) who will probably top the pool.
In the first semifinal, we could see Hashimoto vs Heydarov. The home advantage factor might be enough to push Heydarov over the top and allow him to beat Hashimoto although he's already been beaten twice by the Japanese. The smart money's on Hashimoto though. In the second semifinal, we think An will be the one who gets through to the final.
A Hashimoto vs An final will be one worth watching, for sure. The last time they fought it was An who won although it wasn't a very convincing win. An fought superbly against Hashimoto's teammate Ono in the 2018 Asian Games though and it looks like he is the one on fire here. We think An will win his first World gold in Baku.
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