by Nathaniel Somuah, Ghana Table Tennis Association
Teams such as Mauritius, Tunisia, Algeria and South Africa have arrived in Abidjan but attention will once again be focused on Youssef Abdel-Aziz. The current African no.1 junior player and presently listed at no.9 on the Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings.
Youssef Abdel-Aziz had an impressive outing at the ITTF Junior Circuit tournament, in addition to winning the Junior Boys’ Singles title, he joined forces with Ahmed Elborhamy to win the Junior Boys’ Team title.
“I am happy to have added to my medal collection in this tournament. Very good lessons learned that will help me in my quest to win a fifth African title. It is good I came in early to play because the weather here is not favourable. The weather is hot and I am struggling to get used to it but I will do my best and take each match at a time and see what will happen at the end. I am hopeful of being victorious.” Youssef Abdel-Aziz
Notably Youssef Abdel-Aziz reached the semi-final stage of the Boys’ Singles event at the recent 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals staged in Luxembourg and will be on duty at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games later in the year. He is in form and with the South American city in mind he is looking to build on that form.
“I have really prepared for this tournament and I am expecting strong opposition from Tunisia and Nigeria. They have proven to be worthy opponents so I am buoyed up for a showdown. As champion there is pressure on you to perform and I am ready to put in my best for this tournament as I try and win the title” Youssef Abdul Aziz
The host nation will be looking to talented players like Andre Bly, Chérif Gbane and Nomel Sie. They have shown glimpses of growing into good players if given the necessary guidance and training; their zeal and work ethics say it all but the experience is what they lack. No doubt with more exposure their skills may be honed to the level of 14 year old Japan’s wonder kid Tomokazu Harimoto who is causing upsets the world over.
Worthy of note is the availability and participation of three France-based Ivoirians who are in town to fight for medals: Kanate Ali, Emmanuel Jann Kouadjo and Zinsou Houdji. Perhaps, they will resistance to Youssef Abdul-Aziz than their local heroes. They have more experience.
An exciting tournament awaits, one that will showcase the crème de la crème of African table tennis.