01 Mar 2018

Hopes high for a host nation upset as play commenced in the 2018 ITTF-African Top 16 Cup in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday 1st March; however, in a tournament that year by year is witnessing ever increasing standards, defeat was to be the order of proceedings for the local hero and heroine.

There were tough lessons for Brian Mutta and for Sejal Thakkar.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer)

In the Men’s Singles event Brian Mutta experienced defeat at the hands of Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu but the fact he extracted the opening game against a far more experienced opponent paid great credit to his spirt. He was beaten in four games (8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6).

“My match was not that good because I made a couple of mistakes but I believe I will be able to improve in next round against the Cameroonian. I gave him chances to start the attack; in my next match, I must attack first. I need to practise more my services as well as my receiving. It was a good match.” Brian Mutta

Defeat in his opening contest, on his next visit to the table, it was a similar scenario; he extracted a game but it was eventual defeat at the hands of Cameroon’s Derek Nyoh Ofon (14-12, 15-13, 9-11, 11-9).

One more match in the group remains for Brian Mutta and surely he’ll have no problem? Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, the defending champion awaits!

Defeat but Brian Mutua learning all the time (Stafford Ondego)


Difficult times for Brian Mutta, it was the very same for Sejal Thakkar; in her opening contest she experienced defeat at the hands of Algeria’s Katia Keccasi (11-7, 11-4, 11-3).

“The first match was tough. I was slightly nervous. Christy is left handed; that caused me difficulties. In my second match, my approach will be more positive and I will be more relaxed.” Sejal Thakkar

A straight games reverse, on her next visit to the table, life was rather more encouraging; she extended Christy Bristol of the Seychelles to four games (11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3).

Now, similar to Brian Mutua, a daunting task awaits; in her concluding group stage contest, she faces Olufunke Oshonaike, three times the winner of the Women’s Singles event at the African Championships.

Throughout both Kenyans were advised by Norway’s Jan Berner, who was most realistic as to the efforts of his students.

“Sejal has to relax, the opening match, she is not used to playing left handed players. She had difficulties with her opponent’s services which put her in a very tough position; Mutua needs to have more experience and have more confidence. He needs to improve on his service and receive.”Jan Berner

Difficult tasks to say the least now face both Kenyans but they are engagements from they can learn and most certainly will always remember.

2018 ITTF Africa Top 16 Sejal Thakkar Brian Mutua

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