02 Sep 2018

First staged in 1962 in Alexandria, when Ghana’s Emmanuel Quaye won the Men’s Singles event and all other titles finished in the hands of the host nation, ever since that date, Egypt and Nigeria have been the prominent forces at the African Championships.

In Port Louis, Mauritius, at the 23rd edition of the tournament, commencing on Monday 3rd September and concluding on Sunday 9th September, the two countries will be seeking to retain proud traditions.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Always the Men’s Team event has been won by either Egypt or Nigeria, the former having won 12 times and most pertinently on the three most recent occasions; in the counterpart Women’s Team competition there is one interloper, Congo Brazzaville. They emerged successful in 2008 in Kinshasa.

Otherwise it has always been the major two nations; as with their male counterparts Egypt has secured the top prize on 12 times, Nigeria nine times. It is therefore somewhat surprising that Egyptian players have only won the Women’s Singles title four times and no Egyptian player has won more than once.

Ines El-Darwish won in 1962 in Alexandria, Shahira El-Alfy in 2000 in Addis Ababa, before in 2004 Bacent Osman succeeded in Mauritius and more recently Dina Meshref in 2015 in Cairo.

Conversely Nigeria has struck gold ten times with Olufunke Oshonaike and Bosse Kaffo being the most successful players alongside Ghana’s Ethel Jacks; each won three times.

It is a record that only one male can match; Egypt’s Ahmed Ali Saleh is the only player to have won the Men’s Singles title three times. Somewhat different to the rest, he is from the Zamalek Club, his compatriots represent Al-Ahly. He won in 2000 in Addis Ababa, in 2007 in Brazzaville and in 2010 in Yaoundé.

In fact, no player can match the achievements of the 38 year from Cairo, as he returns to a city where it all began. In 1998 when the tournament was stage in Port Louis, he was a member of the successful gold medal winning Men’s Team, before later in the tournament securing the Mixed Doubles title in partnership with Gihan El-Sayed and the Men’s Doubles in harness with Ashref Helmy.

Furthermore, in addition the three Men’s Singles titles, he has been a member of the successful Men’s Team on nine occasions, he has won the Men’s Doubles five times and the Mixed Doubles twice; he is the most successful of all.

Overall Egypt has secured the Men’s Singles title 11 times, Nigeria on eight occasions. Meanwhile when comparing the countries, Egypt has won the Men’s Doubles 12 times, the Women’s Doubles on nine occasions and the Mixed Doubles on 11 appearances. Nigeria has succeeded nine times in the Men’s Doubles event, on eight occasions in the Women’s Doubles and has been eight times the Mixed Doubles winners.

Now in 2018 it is the Men’s Team and Women’s Team events which commence play. There are three groups in the initial phase of the Men’s Team event; Nigeria faces Mauritius and Congo Democratic, Egypt opposes South Africa, the Seychelles and Madagascar. In the third group Algeria, the third seeds, behind Egypt and Nigeria, confront the Ivory Coast, Angola and Togo.

Somewhat differently in the Women’s Team competition, where there are two groups in the initial phase, Egypt opposes Mauritius, South Africa and Angola; Nigeria meets Algeria, Congo Democratic, Seychelles and Madagascar.

The winners of the Men’s Team and Women’s Team titles will qualify for the 2019 Team World Cup to be staged in Tokyo, being the test event for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Impressively, including the individual events, a total of 22 national associations with compete in Port Louis.  Additional to the hosts Mauritius, entries have been received from Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Democratic, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Libya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa and Togo.

2018 African Championships Ahmed Ali Saleh

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Day 7 - 2018 ITTF Africa Championships