by Ian Marshall, Editor (Interviews: Olalekan Okusan)
Overall, Egypt has secured the title 12 times, it is two fewer for Nigeria; however, Egypt has prevailed in the most recent four meetings and 10 of the last 11, the one blemish to the perfect record was in 2008 in Kinshasa when their arch rivals prevailed.
Notably the two further wins for Egypt came in the first two editions of the tournament, before Nigeria then secured nine in a row!
Segun Toriola, vastly experienced, on Tuesday 18th September he will celebrate his 44th birthday, is adamant that the current Egyptian run of success is about to end and Nigeria will secure a place in next year’s Team World Cup to be staged in Tokyo.
“We are determined to upstage Egypt this time around because the last time we featured in the World Team Cup was in 2010 and we want to use that event to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I am sure the Egyptians know that they are in a tight corner particularly with the absence of Omar Assar. Quadri Aruna, Bode Abiodun and Olajide Omotayo are in good shape and I am hoping that being the top seeded team, we can turn the tables against the Egyptians.” Segun Toriola.
Experience counts and that could be a telling factor for Nigeria; it could also be a crucial element for Egypt, led by Ahmed Al Saleh, on Wednesday 14th November he will mark his 39th birthday. Similar to Segun Toriola for over two decades, he has been pivotal to his nation’s success.
Just as Segun Toriola believes Nigeria can regain the title, Ahmed Ali Saleh is confident Egypt can retain the crown.
“It will be really difficult without Omar Assar because his presence motivates us but we are focused on winning the Men’s Team title because we want to go back to the World Team Cup. We made history by winning the bronze medal in 2013. There is no doubt that Nigeria is our greatest threat but no two matches in table tennis are the same. You can be the best player but in certain circumstances things might not go your way. So we are hopeful that we can do it without Omar Assar. Our young players are the best in Africa now and we want to integrate them into the team with the hope that they will cement their places and remain permanent members. Also they are dangerous players and you must watch out for them in the singles.” Ahmed Ali Saleh
Mohamed El-Beiali, Khalid Assar and Aly Ghallab line up alongside Ahmed Ali Saleh in the Egyptian team.
2018 ITTF African Championships: Newsletter – Monday 3rd September