by Simon Daish
This was the 12th encounter between Omar Assar (EGY) and Quadri Aruna (NGA) at an international competition, and after the final day of the 2016 African Championships Assar holds an 8-4 head-to-head win ratio over Aruna.
Leading up to the final it was Aruna who held the slight advantage following a positive Olympic campaign, and having seen off Assar in the Men’s Team category at the Championships earlier in the week. But day seven in Agadir proved to go against recent form and after seven exciting games of Table Tennis in the final, it was Assar who took the crown.
The opening end was tight with hardly anything separating the two finalists; Aruna eventually edged over the line to take the early lead but a positive reaction from Assar saw the Egyptian representative leapfrog his opponent into a 2-1 lead.
Aruna and Assar often produce an entertaining spectacle on the table and their encounter on the final day of the Championships didn’t disappoint with neither player able to find their way to the win after six games, forcing the match into a decider.
Not only was Aruna ahead in the deciding game at the change of ends (4-5) but also went on to hold a 7-8 lead, however, the second seed couldn’t quite find enough in his play to finish off the match and Assar held his nerve to complete a 4-3 victory (10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-9) resulting in joyous celebrations for the Egyptian camp.
“It was really a crazy match because against Quadri Aruna it is always very exciting. I gave my 100 percent concentration and I was listening more to my coach, Ashraf Helmy. I think Aruna played very well because he was always changing service and he was more aggressive on his forehand. I am so happy retaining the title and I hope I can play better than this in future tournaments” – Omar Assar.