TABLE TENNIS: Africans Fail To Shine At World Championships

Majority of the African players that featured in the 2019 ITTF World Championships failed to make it beyond the group stages.

Players from Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Mauritius, and Madagascar all failed to win any match in their group to exit the tournament early.

But the continent’s powerhouses – Nigeria and Egypt showed their class in all their matches with majority of the players winning at least one match in the group but the same majority could not make it to the main draw.

Three of the continent’s best players – Aruna Quadri of Nigeria and Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Dina Meshref did not compete from the group stage but were listed among the seeded players in the men and women singles. For this, the trio started their campaigns from the main draw.

However, Egyptian veteran, Ahmed Saleh was the only player that fought his way from the group to the main draw while Nigeria’s Bode Abiodun who had initially topped his group but needed a win in the preliminary knockout to be sure of playing in the main draw fell to Saudi Arabia player in the deciding match to the main draw.

Former African champion – Segun Toriola and Olajide Omotayo of Nigeria won one match each from their groups but this did not take them to the main draw. Mohamed El-Beiali and Khaled Assar of Egypt also won a match each in the group but they failed to advance to the main draw in the men’s singles.

Also, Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz narrowly missed the main draw after losing in the final group match while her compatriots – Yousra Helmy and Reem El-Eraky won their matches in the group to berth in the main draw but their first round match in the main draw ended in defeat.

Germany-based Omar Assar failed in his attempt to go beyond the first round after he squandered a 3-1 lead against Portugal’s Joao Geraldo to lose 3-4 in the men’s singles.

It was a narrow escape for Meshref in the first round of the women’s singles as she had to come from 3-0 down to defeat her opponent and advanced to the second round. But she ended her stay in Budapest in the second round when she fell 3-4, to Mo Zhang of Canada.

The only shining of Africa in the men’s singles was Aruna Quadri who set a new record for himself at the world championships by making it to the third round (last 32) of the men’s singles. A feat the Nigerian described as another milestone in his career.

Attention will now be shifted to the 2019 African Cup and Games holding later in the year.