Egyptian veteran wary of Aruna’s threat in Africa Cup

Egyptian veteran wary of Aruna’s threat in Africa Cup

Ahmed Saleh of Egypt - ITTF Africa Cup Champion

At 42, Ahmed Saleh loves to compete in Lagos and as the defending champion of the forthcoming ITTF Africa Cup, the Egyptian veteran believes the atmosphere at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium is a motivating factor for every player.

He is particularly concerned about the threat posed by the present form of Quadri Aruna who set a new record as the first African to reach the semifinal of the WTT Star Contender in Doha, Qatar.

Regarded as the oldest active male table tennis player in Africa, Saleh cannot wait to come to Lagos to defend the title he reclaimed in Tunis in 2020 while admitting that he is ready for the task ahead.

Saleh may not possess the speed and agility that present-day table tennis demands but what the Egyptian has in abundance is his tactical discipline.

Relishing his experience on his previous numerous visits to Lagos, the former African Games champion said: “Lagos is a unique venue every player will always want to play because of the lively atmosphere with the venue always filled up by the fans. This is a unique venue for table tennis in Africa because no other country has this kind of atmosphere even in some European countries you hardly see this kind of lively spectators who understand the sport. But with the present form of Aruna, I must be at my best to overcome players like him in Lagos.”

“It is motivating for us players to play in such an environment that you don’t lack the needed support to want to always give your best. I love the venue and the fans because they support you regardless of your nationality which for me is fair enough for all players,” he said.

Ahmed Saleh of Egypt - ITTF Africa Cup Champion

“I will always try my best in every competition but I must admit that the speed in the sport is higher now. I will continue to play even at 42 as long as my body can carry me because my life revolves around the sport,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ongoing African Club Championships will on Tuesday, May 24 enter a crucial stage after teams from Nigeria, Egypt, and Cote d’Ivoire progress to the knockout stage of the three-day tournament taking place at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

Source: Nigeria Table Tennis Federation

ITTF Africa Western Region Championships: Mati wins maiden laurel as Bello retains women’s title

Nigeria dominates team event

Fatimo Belo (Right) & Mati Taiwo (Left)

Taiwo Mati had to dump out two former champions to win his maiden laurel in the men’s singles at the ITTF Africa Western Region Championships as Fatimo Bello claimed her third consecutive title in the women’s singles of the competition.

Mati who finished fourth at the national trials organized by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) won back his confidence after edging out 2019 champion Oba Oba Kizito of Cote d’Ivoire in the quarterfinal as well as his compatriot and 2021 champion Rilwan Akanbi in the semifinal to get passage to the final where he also humbled compatriot Azeez Solanke 4-1 (11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8) to emerge as the new regional champion.

In the women’s singles, Bello continued her dominance with another victory over compatriot Bose Odusanya in the final.

Bello, who has remained unbeaten since 2019 when she won the maiden title in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire showed her class when it mattered most with 4-2 (11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4) over Odusanya.

An excited Mati attributed his triumph to the disappointment he experienced during the national trials. “I could not believe that I would finish fourth at the national trials and this really motivated me to work harder for this competition. I knew I had to be at my best to be the best and today I was able to show that against my tough rival. He wanted to come back but I just kept to my tactics and this paid off for me at the end of the day for me to win my first regional title,” he said.

For Bello, winning this year’s title was tougher than the previous ones. “I think this year was a bit challenging for me, especially playing against my compatriots. I knew I had to do something different to ensure I retained my title and this I did for things to work out for me and I am happy hoping that this would prepare me for the next two competitions – African Club Championships and Africa Cup,” she said.

Nigerian Female Team

In the team event, host – Nigeria dominated the men’s and women’s divisions after beating Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana to retain their titles.

To retain their title in the men’s team, the trio of Amadi Umeh, Azeez Solanke, and Rilwan Akanbi fought well to be the Ivorien trio of Oba Oba Kizito, Ali Kanate, and Cedric Oba 3-2, while it was a smooth ride to the podium for the Nigeria women’s team as the quartet of Fatimo Bello, Bose Odusanya, Ajoke ojomu, and Tosin Oribamise and whitewashed their Ghanaian counterparts 3-0 to retain the title ahead of others.

Players from Mali, Togo, Benin Republic, Niger Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ghana, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire featured in the three-day championships which also served as qualification for the 2022 African Championships taking place in Algiers later in the year.

Nigerian Male Team

Source: Nigeria Table Tennis Federation

Lagos has become Africa’s table tennis hub

Lagos has become Africa’s table tennis hub

Executives of ITTF

It was without mincing words that the President of ITTF Africa, Khaled El-Salhy tagged Nigeria’s commercial never center, Lagos as the hub of table tennis in the continent following the successful staging of several ITTF-sanctioned events.

Speaking at the press conference to herald the commencement of the 2022 African Club Championships, the Egyptian specifically thanked the Lagos State government for their commitment to the sport in the last seven years which he said has helped to produce world-beaters.

“I must commend the government of Lagos State for what they have done for table tennis because the city has become the hub of table tennis because all players within and outside Africa are always looking forward to competing at the venue, especially with the huge spectators that most times supporting the players regardless of their teams. ITTF has now seen Lagos as one of the cities that they cannot ignore when it comes to staging top-class competition and for us in Africa, we are always confident that the state has the capacity to host major international tournaments,” El-Salhy said.

He described the just-concluded Western Region tournament as a testament to what to expect in the next few days when the Club Championships and Africa Cup start.

For the Chairman of the Main Organising Committee (MOC), Wahid Enitan Oshodi, the staging of a top-class tournament would not have been possible without the huge support from the Lagos State Government as well as sponsors. “We cannot get to where we are at the world level without the support of the Lagos State government because what we have achieved became reality based on their backing. Also, our sponsors play a huge role in where we are today and we hope we can continue to rely on their support,” Oshodi said.

For the chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) Sola Aiyepeku, the state has seen table tennis as one of its important sports that has continued to put the state on the world map. “We believe that with what we have been able to achieve with table tennis, we can boast to say that we are capable of hosting the world. But this was made possible with the commitment of MOC chairman Oshodi whose passion has continued to inspire us to always do more and we are committed to the sport. We thank the ITTF and ATTF for their confident repose on us and we will continue to raise the bar,” Aiyepeku said.

16 clubs made up of nine men and seven women will compete in the Club Championships from May 23 to 25 while 48 players (28men and 20women) will compete for the continental slots at the Africa Cup from May 26 to 28 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium. 

Source: Nigeria Table Tennis Federation

2022 National Sports Festival

The South-West Coordinator of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF) Emmanuel Egbele has expressed strong optimism that players would use the various competitions organized in the zone to prepare well for the 2022 National Sports Festival scheduled for Asaba, Delta State in November. 

He spoke against the background of the Emmanuel Egbele Annual Scrabble Tournament (EEAST) which would move into the scene early next month in Lagos as plans to make the sophomore edition a festival already activated. 
 
Dokun Esan coveted the overall title of the well-attended maiden edition which is now a huge attraction for top scrabblers in the Masters, Intermediate,  Opens,  Students as well as the Veteran’s categories. 
 
Recently, players converged in Lagos for the MSPL Matchday One as well as the Lekki Club Quarterly Retreat before heading to Ibadan, the Oyo state capital for the maiden IGP Scrabble tournament as well as the first South-West Closed championship which was held in late April.
 
Clubs in Ogun, Ekiti, and Ondo states also squeezed in some competitions for players to refine their mastery of the mind game in what appeared to be a very engaging calendar in the zone. 
 
The new verve has also drawn students from tertiary institutions into the loop of intense competitions, giving coaches a larger pool of fresh talents for the challenges ahead, especially at the country’s Olympics, and National Sports Festival.
 
Taking stock after some busy scrabble schedule, Egbele said what he has witnessed so far was an indication that competition would be keen when the Festival gets under later in the year.
 
“My expectations were very well met and it can always get better,” he said.
 
“The South-West Closed championships is always an opportunity to hone your skills, to practice and improve. Considering the National Sports Festival coming up in November, these tournaments are also supposed to help players as part of preparations. You know,” he continued,  “when we have tournaments like this, players who will be representing their states will be using this tournament for performance so that, when they get to the Festival,  they will be able to take laurels back home.”
 
He said players’ yearning for competitions were being matched with different level of scrabble events with 
tacit support from the state chairmen and other stakeholders.
 
He commended the NSF and the players for a dominant display at the recently concluded West Africa Scrabble Tournament (WAST) in Ghana where Nigeria took the first nine positions in the top 10 as Eta Karo emerged as the winner.
 

Source: Nigeria Scrabble News – Tayo Ogunseye

World Championship Regional Qualification

Breaking! Nigeria’s Eta Karo Claims First West Africa Scrabble Tournament In Ghana

Nigeria’s Eta Karo Claims First West Africa Scrabble Tournament In Ghana

Nigeria’s Eta Karo
After three days of grueling top scrabble action, Eta Oghenekaro on Wednesday emerged as the winner of the maiden West Africa Scrabble Tournament held in Accra, Ghana.
 
Gambia, Sierra Leone, and host Ghana participated in the tournament which involved English-speaking West African nations while Liberia withdrew. 
 
His victory which highlighted Nigeria’s dominance in the sports saw the country’s representatives occupying the top positions after a massive 28 rounds of games in three days.
 
The Malaysian Prince whose victory marked his first success on the International scene shook off some stiff challenges from fellow compatriots, South-South champion Nsikak Etim, Tunde Oduwole,  Enoch Nwali, Wellington Jighere as well as other top players from the country.
 
Karo who is well known for his frugal board strategy steered his way to the top by sealing his unassailable position in the 27th round.
 
His victory has sparked some waves of celebration across the country which has established itself as the number one scrabble-playing nation in the world.

Source: Nigeria Scrabble News – Tayo Ogunseye

Fatima Bello

2022 Western Region Championships: Nigeria battles Ghana, and eight others for ITTF WC slots

2022 Western Region Championships: Nigeria battles Ghana, eight others for ITTF WC slots

Fatima Bello
Fatimo Bello - West African Champion

Host – Nigeria will slug it out with Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, and six other nations at the Western Region qualifiers for the 2023 ITTF World Championships (WC) which kicks off on Thursday, May 19 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

Four events – team (men and women) and singles (men and women) – will be jostled for at the three-day tournament with Nigeria’s Rilwan Akanbi and Fatimo Bello defending their titles in the singles events while Nigeria will also be aiming to retain the team events titles.

Apart from Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal, others teams participating in the tournament are Mali, Guinea, Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, and Togo.

Already, all is set for the commencement of the championships as the participating teams will be targeting the few slots from the region on the final day on May 21.

Team Nigeria returned from their camp in Ogun State on Tuesday and they are expected to be led by Akanbi while other members of the team include Amadi Umeh, Azeez Solanke, and Taiwo Mati.

Bello will lead the women’s team alongside Tosin Oribamise, Ajoke Ojomu, and Bose Odusanya.

However, Cote d’Ivoire Oba Oba Kizito who lost his men’s singles title in 2021 after winning the maiden edition in 2019 arrived from his base in Paris, France believes he is ready to wrestle his title from anyone in Lagos.

“It is unfortunate that I lost my title in 2021 but now I am ready to reclaim my title back and hopefully I can lead my team to the title as well. There is no doubt that Nigeria will be difficult to beat but they are also beatable. I am so excited to always come to Lagos because this is where I enjoy table tennis with the huge support from the fans,” the 2019 Western Region champion said.

For the Secretary-General of the Western Region, Prof Germain Karou, the stage is set as the host has put everything in place to ensure a hitch-free event. “I am so excited that we are having this tournament again in Lagos being the home of table tennis in Africa. We want to enjoy the best of table tennis from the talents that are from the region and we hope more Quadri Aruna will emerge from the tournament. It promises to be exciting being the qualifiers for the 2023 World Championships in Durban, South Africa,” Karou said.

Egypt and Mauritius dominated the Northern and Eastern Region qualifiers held in Algeria and Ethiopia respectively.

Source: African Table Tennis Federation

Assar leads Egypt’s contingent to Lagos for Africa Cup

Assar leads Egypt’s contingent to Lagos for Africa Cup

Omar Assar - Egypt

World number 19 Omar Assar will be leading the six-man Egyptian contingent to the 2022 ITTF Africa Cup taking place in Lagos from May 26 to 28 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

The tournament which serves as the continental qualifiers for the end-of-the-year WTT Cup Finals will have 28 men and 20 women from 13 countries competing for the singles titles.

Assar who recently moved to Germany after playing two seasons in the French league will be championing the North African onslaught alongside defending champion Ahmed Saleh and Mohammed El-Beiali.

Assar who is Lagos fans’ favorite will be hoping to regain his top spot in the continent after being displaced by Quadri Aruna in 2020 and the 2019 Africa Cup champion has been warming up for the tournament in Germany.

14-year-old Hana Goda and African champion Mariam Alhodaby will be making their debut at the tournament, women’s defending champion Dina Meshref will be hoping to put the disappointment of 2021 behind her and aiming to hold on to the title she had won more than six times.

In the list released by the President of Egypt Table Tennis Federation (ETTF) Moataz Ashour, the team will arrive Lagos on May 24 as they are expected to defend their titles against Quadri Aruna-led Nigeria side.

The Egyptian team will be coached by their Chinese tactician Zhang Chaoling whose milder touch has brought vibrancy to table tennis in the North African nation.

Also in the fray for the title is Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw who has continued to grow his fans base in Africa following his display at the 2019 Nigeria Open.

Players from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Tunisia, Algeria Cameroon, Kenya, and Togo are expected to compete in the three-day high-ranking points tournament.

Source: African Table Tennis Federation

South Africa, Egypt, 11 others for ITTF seminar, training in Lagos

South Africa, Egypt, 11 others for ITTF seminar, training in Lagos

Top table tennis officials from South Africa, Egypt, Burundi, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Lesotho, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Eritrea, and host- Nigeria have been confirmed for the ITTF-organised seminar for competition managers as well as training for umpires as part of the programs lined up for this year’s Africa Cup.

The seminar cum training takes place from May 22 to 24 with the competition manager while the umpires’ training and examination will hold from May 25 to 28 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

The seminar will be handled by ITTF Competition Services Manager Mohamed El-Dawlatly and it will be jointly organized by ITTF High Performance & Development and ITTF Africa as part of the 2022 Africa Development Program and hosted by the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) in Lagos. 

ITTF Vice President, Wahid Oshodi believes the seminar would help to update the knowledge of the officials in terms of management of tournaments within the continent.

“We are excited about this kind of opportunity to stage a seminar for competition managers in Africa. This is indeed a good development for us in Africa that our officials will be having access to the latest software in competition management as well as understand what it takes to manage an event. We hope Member Associations will send their officials for the training and the participants can replicate this in future events in the continent,” Oshodi said.

The participants must have appropriate internet skills as well as knowledge and experience of working with Microsoft Office applications, mainly Excel, but also Word and PowerPoint.

Participants will receive a participation certificate after the completion of the Seminar while there will be no formal examination featured during or after the seminar, however, participants will be evaluated by the expert and their proactive participation will also contribute to their final assessment.

 

Source: African Table Tennis Federation

Breaking News: 2023 ITTF World Championship: Nigeria, Ghana, and eight others for Western Region qualifiers

2023 ITTF World Championship: Nigeria, Ghana, and eight others for Western Region qualifiers

Rilwan Akanbi - West African Champion

Nigeria, Ghana, and eight other nations have been confirmed for the Western Region qualifiers for the 2023 ITTF World Championships taking place in Lagos from May 19 to 21.

The 2023 World Championships will be the second time Africa will be hosting the ITTF World Championships as the city of Durban in South Africa was awarded the hosting right in 2020 at the ITTF AGM 2020.

Four events – team (men and women) and singles (men and women) will be jostled for at the tournament with Nigeria’s Rilwan Akanbi facing familiar foes in top players from Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Two-time regional champion Fatimo Bello of Nigeria will also be hoping to retain the title she won in Abidjan and Lagos in 2019 and 2021, respectively.

According to the Secretary-General of the Western Region, Prof Germain Karou, the huge turnout from the teams was based on the quality of organization coupled with the quality of players expected at the three-day tournament hosted by the Lagos State Government under the technical coordination of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).

“I am so excited with the large turnout of teams for the third edition of the regional championships because for any team to be part of the world championship, such team had to participate in the regional event and that is why most of the teams have decided to come to Lagos State, a good city which has become the hub of table tennis in Africa. Apart from being a good host, Nigeria is known globally as a good organizer of a table tennis event in the world with the ever-supporting fans coupled with the quality of play, we cannot wait to start on May 19 and by 21, we will know the teams that will be qualifying from the region to the World Championships in 2023 in Durban, South Africa,” Karou said.

Apart from Nigeria and Ghana, teams from Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Togo, Niger Republic, and Senegal.

Egypt dominated the Northern Region qualifiers held in Algeria while Mauritius ruled at the Eastern Region qualifiers hosted by Ethiopia.

 

Source: African Table Tennis Federation