01 Mar 2018

Top place in the group secured but for both Egypt’s Omar Assar, the top seed and Nigeria’s Segun Toriola, the no.4 seed, there were close calls in the concluding group stage matches in the Men’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF-Africa Top 16 tournament in the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi on the early evening of Thursday 1st March.

Hitherto unbeaten and facing players who had equally unblemished records, both were stretched the full five games distance.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager (Quotes by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer)

Omar Assar eventually overcame Derek Abrefa (11-6. 11-13. 11-8, 8-11, 11-4), the Ghanaian being true to his word earlier in the day when he stressed it would not be a one sided encounter.

Similarly, Segun Toriola was extended the full distance by a determined Algerian in the guise of Sami Kherouf (11-9, 7-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8).

“I am yet to appreciate the atmosphere in Nairobi because the high altitude is really affecting the ball. You cannot play any stroke with confidence; the ball can easily go long. You have to be careful. I must confess that it is not easy for any player in this competition because the altitude is affecting the movement of the ball. You have to play with caution.” Segun Toriola

Nevertheless, Segun Toriola, seven times an Olympian, a player with vast experience adjusted and eventually overcame a most worthy adversary

“I can remember Sami gave me a tough time in Morocco last year but I am sure he knows that he met a strong Toriola today. I was ready for him but the altitude did not really enable me to play to my best. I am sure any player that wins the competition will count himself lucky. It is not easy because of the altitude.” Segun Toriola

First positions for Omar Assar and Segun Toriola, it was runners up spot for Derek Abrefa and Sami Kherouf; thus both secured quarter-final places.

Players finishing in first and second positions in each of the four groups advance to the round of the last eight.

2018 ITTF Africa Top 16 Segun TORIOLA Sami Kherouf

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