Let the show begin in Tunis
By Olalekan Okusan
All the players have arrived. The venue is set. And the atmosphere is charged. It is the 2020 ITTF Africa Top Cup 16, and it serves off today in Rades, Tunis, the capital city of the North African nation, Tunisia.
From Omar Assar to Dina Meshref who are defending champions in the men and women events respectively, the field is stronger now and things are certainly looking tougher here for would-be conquerors of Africa.
With the presence of Africa’s best ranked player in the world, Aruna Quadri of Nigeria, coupled with the most improved player on the continent, Ibrahima Diaw of Senegal, as well as other title contenders competing in Tunis, securing the ultimate glory in this tournament is as challenging as never before.
To Meshref, who is the most successful player in the competition having won the last three editions in Nigeria, Sudan and Kenya, the standard of play now makes it harder for any player to clinch the title.
“I think it is more challenging for any player to win the title. But for me I just need to focus on my game in the tournament with the hope of achieving new things. I am going to play my game and hope that I can do better,” she said.
Similarly, Diaw who is making his debut in the competition, admitted that winning tournament has become tougher in Africa now.
“I think playing in Africa has really improved my game and I hope I can do well in the tournament. I am really looking forward to an exciting time in Tunisia, especially with the warm welcome I got from the hosts since I arrived,” he said.
Ahmed Saleh is one of the celebrated table tennis players in Africa. Though he is 40 years old, the Egyptian star is not ready to call it quit with the game yet, as he is pumped up to slug it out with the younger heavyweights of the sport at the on-going 2020 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup in Tunis, capital of Tunisia.
Saleh, who is seeded number two in the men’s singles event, said with the current crop of players on the continent, claiming titles in any major event had become more difficult.
“I think when I won the title in the 1990s, it was a bit easy but today it is much harder because of the kind of players we have in Africa now. They are all among the best in the world and I must admit that anybody that wins here will know that he worked hard for it,” Saleh said.
The Egyptian faces a daunting task in Tunis as he is drawn in Group Two alongside Togo’s Dodji Kokou Fanny, South Africa’s Shane Overmeyer and Kenya’s Brian Mutua.
But Kenyan 21-year-old star, Mutua, also believes that he has been handed a tough challenge.
“I am really in a tough group in this competition but I will surely give it my best and hope that I can qualify from the group and make it to the next stage of the championship. I am here for business because it is a rare privilege for me to represent Kenya in this tournament,” Mutua said.
SOURCE : Media ATTF
By Olalekan Okusan
After hobnobbing with the heavyweights in several major competitions, Sami Kherouf alongside Mohamed Boudjadja at the 2019 African Games became the first set of Algerian players to win gold medal at the multi-sports tournament.
The men’s doubles title was celebrated by the government of Algeria and again, Sami Kherouf is hoping to go beyond this at the 2020 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup in Tunisia.
The 31-year-old has been listed among the cast for the ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup in Tunisia from February 24 to 26 and the 31-year-old is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to halt the dominance of Aruna Quadri and Omar Assar.
“I am preparing for the ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup like every African competition with the ambition to do better than the last edition. My main goal in Tunisia is to win a medal at Africa Top 16 Cup.”
Being his third appearance in the tournament, Kherouf has been threatening the old order and believes he might alter the order this year.
“I don’t set a specific goal as the dream of every player is to win tournament and this is my ambition which is the will to go farther. I am not bothered about the seeding list as seeding can be altered on table. I don’t care about the rating as I am aiming to win every game I play. I believe the ranking will change after the tournament,” he boasted.
Also, the President of Tunisia Table Tennis Federation (TTTF) Lotfi Guerfel has assured of the country’s readiness to stage a befitting tournaments.
“Everything is ready. We started planning for the events when the announcement was made that Tunisia will host the two tournaments at the Annual General Meeting of African Table Tennis Federation in Morocco in 2019. We have booked the venue; arrangement for the hotel has been made while officials of the African Federation have also come for inspection of facilities. For us, hosting a major competition is the best way to promote table tennis more in Tunisia and it is an opportunity to talk about table tennis in the media as well as to get equipment donations from ITTF,” he said.
Acknowledging the quality of players, he said: “The best players are from Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia and Algeria, this was again been confirmed at the 2019 African Games in Morocco with the emergence of individual talents like Ibrahima Diaw of Senegal and Sarah Hanffou of Cameroon.”
SOURCE : Media ATTF
ATTF unveils seeding list for Africa Top 16 Cup
Ahead of the 2020 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup in Tunisia, the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) has unveiled the seeding list for the $25,000 prize money tournament holding on February 24 to 26.
Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri and Egypt’s Dina Meshref have been listed as top seeds in the men and women events at the three-day tournament which serves as the continental qualifiers for the 2020 ITTF World Cup in Germany and China.
The 32 participants (16 men and 16 women) is made up of regional champions and top ranked players made the final list with obvious absence of Nigeria’s veterans – Segun Toriola and Olufunke Oshonaike. The Nigerian duo will be missing out from the competition for the first time in the last one decade having won the tournament in the past to represent Africa at the World Cups.
In the men’s seeding list, Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri who recently joined a German Club in the Bundesliga will lead the array of stars to Tunis, while defending champion, Dina Meshref leads the women’s contingent to the tournament.
Men’s defending champion – Omar Assar of Egypt is seeded number four behind Ahmed Saleh of Egypt and Olajide Omotayo of Nigeria.
From the seeding, Quadri and Assar will likely clash in the semifinal just like what panned out at the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup in Lagos with the Egyptian claiming a 4-2 win to eventual win the tournament.
According to the format of play, both events (men and women) shall be played in a group of Round Robin System with four groups of four players in each category, while all matches will be played best of five games in the first stage.
In the second stage of the tournament, winners and runners-up of all groups will be drawn to play the knockout for all positions till the winners emerge.
The allotment of the players in groups will take place according to the latest African seeding list with the top four seeding players being drawn as headers of each group. The other seeded players will be drawn accordingly using the modified snake system in the groups two by two – The players not ranked, will be allotted by draw.
Also, players from the same country not to be drawn in the same group of the competition.
Winners in the men and women events will represent the continent at the ITTF World Cups later in the year.
SOURCE : Media ATTF
Sports Minister hails him
The management of German Club, TTC RhönSprudel Maberzell Fulda has said that they signed up Aruna Quadri following his exploits across the globe particular with his performance against German sports hero – Timo Boll at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
In a related development on Tuesday, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has hailed Quadri’s movement to Germany.
“We celebrate Aruna Quadri, Africa’s number one tennis player on the signing with German Bundesliga Table Tennis league from next season. We congratulate him. All the Way,” declared Dare on his twitter handle.
Writing on its website on Wednesday February 5, after the unveiling of the Nigerian, the club said: “When looking for a suitable candidate to compensate for the departure of service provider Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, the TTC has now found what it is looking for: Quadri Aruna (born August 9, 1988 in Oyo, Nigeria) will strengthen the TTC from next season!.
“ The 31-year-old Nigerian has repeatedly caused a sensation in the table tennis world in recent years that at the 2016 Olympic Games, he threw the world rankings seventh Chuang Chih-Yuan and Timo Boll out of the competition. Last year he beat top Japanese player Jun Mizutani at the Bulgarian Open. Aruna Quadri, who is currently playing for the Portuguese first division club “Sporting Lisbon”, also knows the Bundesliga players well.
“He recently won against top Bundesliga players Kirill Gerassimenko (Bremen), Ricardo Walther (Düsseldorf) and Darko Jorgic (Saarbrücken) and scored in 2018 twice in the Champions League match against Borussia Düsseldorf. In future, the TTC will be ideally equipped to survive in the Bundesliga.
With an option of extending the contract, the club said: “Aruna Quadri receives a one-year contract with an option for the TTC to add another year. Incidentally, Aruna’s most important sporting goal is this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.”
Quadri will team up with German international, Ruwen Filus, who is one of the best defender in the world, as the German has extended his contract by two years with the Central Germany-based club.
SOURCE : Media ATTF
Chairmans Cup on steroids
Ghana Table Tennis Association has announced the commencement of 2020 Table Tennis season with Chairman’s Cup being the first tournament to be played on February 15 2020. The tournament is sponsored by the Chairman of Ghana Table Tennis Association Mr. Mawuko Afadzinu.
This year’s Chairman’s Cup has broken new grounds, by selecting the much-coveted Fantasy Dome at La Trade Fair Center to be the venue to host the tournament. The venue is famous for hosting world class events in Ghana as such this is a clear message from the association that 2020 is a year were fans and patrons of Table Tennis would be entertained with world class Table Tennis.
Earnest Quarcoo and Celia Baah-Danso are the reigning champions of the Chairman’s Cup. Both players missed out on the opportunity to represent Ghana at the African Games held in Rabat, Morocco in 2019, in which Egypt emerged as the number one team on the African continent, beating their long time rival Nigeria in the final.
Despite the disappointment, the champions kept training and working hard. Their hard work was rewarded in all University Games 2020 when they helped their universities to win medals. Earnest Quarcoo emerged as the best male Table Tennis player in the tournament when he defeated Emmanuel Commey in the men’s singles final to help University of Cape Coast win gold.
The question on the minds of fans is can they retain their titles? Table Tennis is played in most parts of Ghana, by players of varied ages and groups.
The Chairman’s Cup promises to bring players from every part of Ghana to compete for the total prize money of GHS 6000. The players could be categorized into cadet, senior players otherwise known as active players, the veterans and those who play on the streets.
Information reaching GH. Table Tennis indicates that each of the groupings believes in their ability to have a champion emerged from them. This has created a positive competitive atmosphere ahead of the Chairman’s Cup.
The veteran’s group is promising the active players a repeat of the treatment metered to them in last year’s tournament. The street players, on the other hand, are also promising to dominate with their brand of Table Tennis. The active players are also saying the day would see them eliminate all the groups. The cadets on the other hand are making references to the Japanese sensation and wonder kid Harimoto Tomokazu and are promising to carry the day. Share your thoughts as to who would carry the day in our comments section.
The stage is therefore set for a showdown at the Fantasy Dome at International Trade Fair Center La Accra- Ghana on the 15th of February 2020.
German Bundesliga Club signs Aruna Quadri
Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri has teamed with a top club in the German Bundesliga Table Tennis league after the world number 18 was unveiled on Monday February 3, by the management of the club led by its President, Stefan Frauenholz.
The deal was brokered by WEOAllSports and Quadri is expected to join the club – TTC RhönSprudel Maberzell Fulda based in the Central part of Germany from next season (September 2020) in the elite division of the Bundesliga.
According to the President of TTC RhönSprudel Maberzell Fulda Stefan Frauenholz, the decision to sign Quadri was based on the team’s conviction that the Nigerian has a lot to offer based on his global exploits.
“We are so lucky to sign Aruna Quadri because he is such a good player with excellent results. This is a family club and we believe his passion and interest tally with the ideals of the club. We are so happy to unveil him today and we hope he can bring his wealth of experience to help the team next season,” Frauenholz said.
An excited Quadri said he was happy fulfilling his dream of playing in the German Bundesliga having spent over 10 years playing in the Portuguese league with several laurels to show for his efforts. “I am happy joining this team and I see that it is a family club with good ideal and for me I am going to give my 100 percent to the team. I look forward to having a good experience playing against the best in the Bundesliga to continue to improve my career,” the Rio 2016 Olympic quarterfinalist said.
For the Chairman of WEOAllSports, Wahid Oshodi, the signing of Quadri by the German club is a confirmation of his hardwork and commitment to his trade. “We are so excited that teams across Europe appreciate the progress Quadri has made over the years. He is now one of the best players in the world and we hope this move will give him the opportunity to improve his skills and continue to improve his global rating. The Bundesliga has the best players in the world and Quadri will feel at home there. Aruna Quadri is such an amazing player who is very popular among the Germans and we are not surprised that some of the best teams in the world wanted him. We hope this will serve as an inspiration for the younger Nigerian players,” Oshodi said.
Quadri’s started his sojourn to Europe in 2010 and he has played for several clubs in Portugal while his present team is Sporting where he had won several medals including making it to the semifinal stage of the ETTU Champions League. At Sporting, he has remained unbeaten in the last five years while he has won back-to-back league titles with the Lisbon-based team.
SOURCE : Media ATTF