by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
He was beaten in six games by Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu (11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10), thus hopes of repeating the success of 2008 when he had won the ITTF Africa Cup in Brazzaville were dashed.
“All I have to say is to thank God. I trained and believed in myself which helped me to defeat Segun Toriola. My training with Quadri Aruna in Portugal has helped me to improve my skills. I am glad it paid off.” Saheed Idowu
In the penultimate round, Saheed Idowu meets Egypt’s Omar Assar, the top seed; he booked his last four place courtesy of success against Tunisia’s Thaeur Mamia (11-9, 11-6, 12-10, 10-12, 11-3).
“I hope to give my best again against Omar Assar in the semi-final; anything can happen.” Saheed Idowu
Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, the no.2 seed and defending champion, meets Ahmed Ali Saleh, the no.3 seed and like Omar Assar from Egypt.
In the round of the last eight, Ahmed Ali Saleh resisted a brave challenge from Algeria’s Sami Kherouf (11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9); rather more comfortably, Quadri Aruna ended the hopes of Ghana’s Derek Abrefa (11-2, 11-9, 11-1, 11-8).
“Playing Quadri Aruna, I realised that he is miles ahead of me. I tried my best but he was too experienced and returned every ball. I aim to improve and do better in the next African Cup if given the support in Ghana. I am happy that I achieved my initial goal of making it to the quarter-final.” Derek Abrefa
“Yesterday, Derek Abrefa nearly beat Omar Assar and I think that was a wake-up call for me for my quarter-final match against him. I must also say that it has not been very easy but day-by-day, I think I’m getting used to the environment. It was really difficult to play here in Nairobi because of the altitude but I could see already in the last match that I was able to do better than yesterday. I think I’m getting better and better and I hope to get better. I have played against Ahmed Saleh before and it has been 50:50. This semi-final clash will also be 50:50 because of the level of our play. In all, it is a little strange that the altitude is very high. If we had been here two weeks or a month before, we could have acclimatized. It is really affecting the foreign players and our performance.” Quadri Aruna
The semi-finals and Final of the Men’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 3rd March.