by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
At the start of the year, Omar Assar was ranked among the top 50 players in the world; Quadri Aruna began the year at no.25 on the world rating.
Sheer determination coupled with hard work, Omar Assar achieved the greatest feat of his career when he reached the top 20 on the October 2017 World Ranking; Quadri Aruna, who started 2017 at 25, set a new target for himself by ending the year in the no. 21 spot.
It was clear from the beginning of 2017 that Omar Assar was determined to achieve three goals. The goals were making it to the top 20 on the world ranking, qualifying for the Liebherr Men’s World Cup as well as joining a top European club.
At the end of the 2017, Omar Assar achieved the goals, the Egyptian was delighted. He explained.
“I am so happy that all the goals I set for myself were achieved. I wanted to set a new record in Africa by becoming the first player to make it to the top 20 in the world; I am so happy that this became a reality.
Also I was determined to qualify for the World Cup; unfortunately I lost to Quadri Aruna at the African Cup in Morocco but I was determined to go to the World Cup and I knew the only way was through my world ranking. So I started working hard and when the final list was made public, I made the cut for the World Cup.
At the beginning of the year, I was playing in the French League but I wanted to play in the top league; I believe the Bundesliga will surely help my game. Fortunately, I was signed by Werder Bremen and one of the goals with the team was to be among the best in the league. When we started we were seventh on the league table and by the end of the year, we were in the second place and also in the semi-final of the German Cup.
I believe our hard work paid off for us. I think with what Quadri Aruna and I have achieved, we believe more players from Africa should take a cue from us and aim high in their career.
My main target in 2018 is to make the top 10 of the world ranking which I believe is achievable and to ensure I achieve this I have entered into agreement with a Chinese coach, Chen Zhibin. He will be my coach for 2018. I believe with this I can improve my game and fulfil my dream.”
Meanwhile, for Quadri Aruna, he has set a new record as the first African player to reach the quarter-final stage of the ETTU Champions League after his team, Sporting Portugal, qualified for the last eight of the competition after finishing second in Group A of the event.
Sporting now faces France’s Stella Sport La Romagne; Quadri Aruna is expected to lead the Portuguese side. The quarter-final round will be held between Sunday 24th and Tuesday 26th January; the return will be played on Friday 9th February.