By Neha Aggarwal
Men’s Singles Semi-Finals
The first semi-finals will be payed between Omar Assar and El-Sayed Lashin both from Egypt. Assar is ranked 57 in the official world ranking and Lashin is at 150. However according to African Table Tennis Federation ranking, Assar is at number one and Lashin at number three. With such a close competition between the two, the match is expected to be of world class levels. Both the players are fierce attackers, although Assar is more consistent than Lashin.
The second semi-finals will be contested between Ahmed Ali Saleh (EGY) and Quadri Aruna (NGR). Aruna is in top form and this is the first time that he has made it to the semi finals of an African Championships. Clearly he is determined to go ahead and make history. Nigeria has won one gold medal until now and Aruna is determined to bring home the second one. Saleh has been is good shape as well as he beat the third seed Mohamed El-Beilai 4-0 in the quarter finals.
With only Quadri Aruna from Nigeria in fray, undoubtedly all the support will be poring on him which also brings in additional pressure. But Aruna is a fighter and a tough opponent to surpass through. He won both his matches in the finals of the team event against Egypt. Thus, the matches will be thrilling ones!
The first semi-final will be played at 11:30am local time followed by the second semi-final.
Women’s Singles Semi-Finals
The first semi-finals will be played between Dina Meshref (EGY) and Aida Rahmo Ai (EGY). Dina undoubtedly has an upper edge being the better experienced of the two. She has also seen some good performances in the recent past and will be a tough nut to crack for Aida. On the other hand, Aida has also shown her mettle as she beat the fourth seed Yousra Helmy in the quarter finals in five games. The match will be played at 10:00 am local time.
The second semi-final will be played between Farah Abdel-Aziz (EGY) and Oshonaike Olufunke (NGR). Olufunke, who expressed her disappointment as the Nigerian Sports Ministry did not fund the other Nigerian women to participate in the championship, is the lone representative. She is determined to bring home a medal and change the existing conditions back in Nigeria. She is ranked 253 in the official world ranking and has been the flag bearer for Nigeria since a long time. Farah, on the other hand is also determined to follow her teammates and help Egypt with a clean sweep of medals. The match will be played at 10:45am local time.
With only two Nigerians left in fray, they have a huge responsibility on their shoulders. The strong Egyptian army is hard to surpass but with Aruna playing at his best and Olufunke having a point to prove, the matches will be played with playes giving in their heart and soul.
At the end, we will have an African champion in both men’s and women’s singles.