by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
However, progress was not without moments of trepidation. There were few problems Quadri Aruna and Ahmed Ali Saleh; for Omar Assar and Segun Toriola it was somewhat different. In their concluding initial phase contests both needed the full five games to ensure first places.
Omar Assar was tested by Ghana’s Derek Abrefa (11-6, 11-13, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4), very much the player to excel expectations. No current world ranking, it was to be his only defeat of the day; thus second place in the group and a passport to the last eight was secured.
A five games examination for Omar Assar, it was the same for Segun Toriola; he found Algeria’s Sami Kherouf very much a player in form (11-9, 7-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8). Similar to Derek Abrefa, it was the only reverse of the day for the Algerian; thus second place in the group and a passport to the main draw was secured.
Safe passages for the top four men, not for the top four women; Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike, the respective top two seeds, duly remained unbeaten to top their groups without surrendering a single individual game. However, for the next two names in the order of merit, life was different.
Both Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz and Nigeria’s Offiong Edem had to settle for second places. Farah Abdel-Aziz lost to Tunisia’s Safa Saidani (12-10, 11-8, 2-11, 11-9); Offiong Edem suffered defeat at the hands of Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi. She was beaten by the narrowest of margins in a five games contest (11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 12-10).
Safa Saidani and Lynda Loghraibi remained unbeaten to top their groups but most certainly, Lynda Loghraibi did things the hard way. Three wins, all in five games; in addition to the success against Offiong Edem, she was extended the full distance by Nandeshwaree Jalim of Mauritius (11-13, 13-11, 11-6, 10-12, 15-13) and in her concluding contest by Tunisia’s Abir Haj Salah (11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7).
In each of the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events, players finishing in first and second places in each of the four groups progress to the quarter-finals; those who finish in third and fourth positions compete for positions nine to sixteen.