by Nathaniel Somuah, Côte d’Ivoire Table Tennis Federation
In the Under 21 Men’s Team event, the trio comprising Kanate Ali, Zinsou Winner Houdji and Yann Emmanuel Kouadjo made a fine start to their campaign; they beat the Congo Democratic trio comprising Gedeon Kassag, Isaac Muabi Basumi and Josué Olenga by three matches to nil.
Man of the moment was Kanate Ali, currently based in France; in the opening contest he accounted for Isaac Gedeon Kassag in a thrilling seven games duel decided by the very narrowest of decisions (9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-13, 14-12). Notably in the fifth game he trailed 1-7 before recovering to level at 9-all and then securing a quite sensational victory.
“It was a very difficult match. The fans pushed me to do the impossible and I managed to win. He was wasting time and frustrating me on the table. It affected my performance. I will do my best in this tournament and hopefully win a medal. This year, my focus is on this tournament and also I hope to do well in African Championship in Mauritius.” Kanate Ali
Delight for Kanate Ali, disappointment for Gedeón Kassag
“I was leading 8-3 in the decider and, all of a sudden, things changed. In this level of competition, you need effort to win. I lacked energy because I was injured and I had to play through pain. I came to this tournament well prepared to get to the medal zone. From here, I am going to China for two months training. I will be back to Mauritius for the African Championship” Gedeon Kassag
Success for Kanate Ali was followed wins for Zinsou Winner Houdji against Isaac Muabi Basumi (11-8, 11-7, 11-2) and by Yann Emmanuel Kouadjo when facing Josué Olenga (8-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7) to complete a most impressive win.