by Ian Marshall, Editor
In May, Ibrahima Diaw excelled in the men’s singles event at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Thailand Open in Bangkok; without surrendering a single game he finished in first place in his initial phase group ahead of Italy’s Gabriele Piciulin, Korea Republic’s Lee Junmin and Belgium’s David Comeliau.
Good form and that good form continued; in the opening round he beat Singapore’s Ethan Poh Shao Feng, prior to accounting for a further adversary from the Korea Republic in the guise of Hwang Jinha. Journey’s end came when facing a third opponent from the east Asian country, he was beaten by Seo Hyundeok, the eventual silver medallist.
In Lagos, Ibrahima Diaw is drawn in the same group as Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu, the no.6 seed; Benin’s Monday Olabiyi and Guinea’s Maret Camara complete the four names. Repeat Thailand form and first place in the group for Ibrahima Diaw is more than a possibility.
Meanwhile, in Accra at the 2019 African Youth, Junior and Cadet Championships, Fadwa Garci emerged an under 21 women’s singles bronze medallist. She is listed in the same group as Nigeria’s Offing Edem, the no.2 seed and Senegal’s Thiane Seck.
Impressive in Accra but if there was one player to impress in the Ghanaian city it was 14 year old Taiwo Mati; in the cadet boys’ singles event he emerged the winner at both the ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament and at the African Youth, Junior and Cadet Championships. Additionally in the former, he was the junior boys’ singles runner up.
At the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup he is drawn in the same group as Egypt’s Omar Assar, the no.3 seed and Ethiopia’s Aden Faris. I would suggest Omar Assar is a step too far but the defending champion can have no room for complacency.
Four months ago in April, Taiwo Mati attracted the attention, 14 years ago so did Tunisia’s Adem Hmam. At the 2005 ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, only 10 years old at the time, he was a member of Team Africa. Later at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, he partnered China’s Gu Yuting to mixed team bronze.
In Lagos he could well upset the order of merit; he is drawn in the same group as Togo’s Kokou Dodji Fanny, Benin’s Nawai Alao and Nigeria’s Bode Abiodun, the no.6 seed.
Eight groups form the initial stage in the men’s singles event, seven in the counterpart women’s singles competition. The host nation’s Quadri Aruna tops the men’s list followed by Egypt’s Ahmed Ali Saleh and Omar Assar; also from Nigeria, Segun Toriola occupies to no.4 seeded spot.
In the women’s singles competition, Egypt’s Dina Meshref is at the top of the order; next in line is Nigeria’s Offiong Edem. Also from Egypt, Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy complete the top four names.