by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Notably at the ITTF-Africa Top 16 Cup held earlier this year in Nairobi during the first week of March, he finished in a highly creditable sixth place; in Mauritius the aim is to build on that achievement.
“In Africa, I have always put in a good performance. I defeated El-Sayed Lashin of Egypt in Sudan in 2016; Mohammed El-Beiali has also tasted defeat in my hands at the Mediterranean Games. Unfortunately, I lose when it matters most and most of my losses are very close, particularly losing four-three against good players. I think this is because I still lack the needed experience to know when to raise my game. I still miss a little experience at the right time to finish the matches.” Sami Kherouf
Consistency has made Sami Kherouf the top player for the North African nation. He is ready again to lead the team against the best of the continent in Mauritius.
“My goal is to win a medal in singles by making it to the semi-finals. Of course I am not ruling out playing in the final, if I have a good draw. It is very hard but it is possible. I need to be ready in order to get to my best level of play; in the end it’s just a sport.” Sami Kherouf
Having watched Quadri Aruna win the Men’s Singles title at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open, Sami Kherouf believes the Nigerian has all it takes to claim the title in the absence of Egypt’s Omar Assar.
“I think Quadri Aruna has the chance to win the Men’s Singles especially in the absence of his closest rival, Omar Assar. Aruna is consistent and he is a very good player.” Sami Kherouf
Now, having finished third in continental team tournaments on many occasions; Sami Kherouf believes Algeria can exceed a bronze medal zone this year.
“Algeria has always won the bronze medal in team but the target this year is to play in the final. If we are fully ready why not winning it? However, this also depends on the quality of team we will be presenting for the competition.” Sami Kherouf
Positive and Sami Kherouf is positive about the standard of the sport in Africa particularly with players from the continent breaking into the top 20 ranking in the world.
“Table tennis has evolved a lot in Africa annually, we now have African players who make very good results in Europe and elsewhere; this kind of performance suggests that Africa has come of age in the game and the level continues to improve.” Sami Kherouf
The 2018 African Senior Championships conclude on Sunday 9th September.