by Simon Daish – Interviews conducted by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
Both Dina Meshref and Olufunke Oshonaike headed to the final with confidence on their side, following positive displays in the semi-finals.
Dina Meshref accounted for fellow compatriot Farah Abdel-Aziz, the no.4 seed, in straight games in her last four match (11-6, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5), while Olufunke Oshonaike posted a similar outcome against Egyptian representative Yousra Helmy, the no.3 seed, in the lower half of the draw (11-7, 12-10, 11-7, 11-3).
Despite being ranked one position below Dina Meshref in the seeding list, there were plenty of reasons for Olufunke Oshonaike to feel positive ahead of the final, having beaten her opponent from Egypt last year at the 2016 ITTF-Africa Senior Championships; also hosted in Agadir.
The end score-line may indicate that Dina Meshref pulled off a straightforward win but she was pushed hard in the opening two games of the duel and it looked as though the top seed could be in for a very tough battle.
However, Olufunke Oshonaike didn’t look at her best and a calm performance from Dina Meshref saw her claim the following two games to lift the trophy.
“It was not an easy match and this cannot be judged by the result. The first two games were very tough and I knew that if I could win the first two games, my confidence would grow and I would have the opportunity to win the match”, Dina Meshref.
The previous encounter between the two players in Agadir went against Dina Meshref and so victory this time around came as a big confidence boost, but the Egyptian competitor was more pleased with her qualification for the 2017 ITTF-Women’s World Cup.
“It was good winning at the same venue that I lost to her last year but most importantly qualifying for the 2017 Women’s World Cup, a tournament which is very special to me”, Dina Meshref.
Olufunke Oshonaike couldn’t produce the perfect ending to her campaign in Agadir, but the 41-year-old Nigerian star leaves Morocco with her head held high.
“I am so proud of myself that despite being the oldest player in the competition, I fought my way into the final again. From the semi-final, I was so tired but with my experience I won the encounter against the young Egyptian. But in the final, I was just too exhausted as my opponent was just too fast for me. I think I gave a good account of myself here again”, Olufunke Oshonaike.