by Ian Marshall, Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer)
Acclimatising quickly, in his opening match of the day, Ibrahima Diaw beat Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu, the no.6 seed (15-13, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5) to set the tone; later he accounted for Guinea’s Maret Camara (11-5, 11-3, 11-5) and Benin’s Monday Olabiyi (11-6, 13-11, 11-2) to secure first place.
“I was a bit nervous in the first game against Saheed, we are used to playing against each other in Europe. I was losing in the first game 4-8 but I was able to recover and win the game. Also after winning the second game, I was confident that I could win, even when he came back in the third game. I was able to keep ahead of him mentally. He is such a good player with superb backhand.” Ibrahima Diaw
Ibrahima Diaw is taking Senegal to unprecedented heights; in a different manner so is the African Table Tennis Federation; their progress is in the sphere of organisation and presentation, a fact appreciated by Ibrahima Diaw.
“I am really impressed with the quality of play coupled with the organisation; it shows that Africa has come of age. The conditions for play are very good just like Europe and I am really happy making my debut in the continental tournament. I think I have a chance to win this competition because I am playing well at present. Everybody is also playing well but I am here to make a name for myself and do my country proud. There is no doubt that the quality of players in the competition has again confirmed that Africa has talents.” Ibrahima Diaw
Defeat for Saheed Idowu but it was his only reverse; thus he gained second position in the group and a place in the main draw. In both the men’s and women’s events, players finishing in first and second positions advance.
Impressive from Ibrahima Diaw, it was the same in the counterpart women’s singles event from Fadwa Garcia. She caused arguably the biggest surprise of the day. Similar to Ibrahima Diaw, she made the dream start. In her opening contest she accounted for Nigeria’s Offiong Edem, the no.2 seed (14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9), before overcoming Senegal’s Thiane Seck (11-2, 11-1, 11-4) to secure top spot. Second position was the lot of Offiong Edem and thus a main draw place was booked.
A reverse for Nigeria, the scales were balanced by Ajoke Ojumu. Following the same formula as Ibrahima Diaw and Fadwa Garca, in her opening match she caused a notable surprise. She beat Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi, the no.7 seed (9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4), prior to securing top spot courtesy of success in opposition to Ghana’s Hilda Agbottah (11-2, 11-6, 11-6) and Congo Democratic’s Ammadine Litobka (11-7, 13-11, 11-8). Lynda Loghraibi experienced no further defeats and thus ended the day in runners up spot.
“We had played each other at junior level and I always had the edge over Lynda. Today, it was much more difficult because the rubber on her racket caused me problems. I am happy that with the instructions from my coach, I was able to win.” Ajoke Ojumu
Surprises but in the women’s event, other than for Offiong Edem and Lynda Loghraibi, it was first place in the group for the leading names. Egypt’s Dina Meshref, Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy all secured first positions in their respective groups, as did Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike and Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou.
Similarly, in the men’s event, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, Segun Toriola, Olajide Omotayo and Bode Aboidun topped their groups, a goal also accomplished by did Egypt’s Omar Assar and Ahmed Ali Saleh. Likewise, it was pole position for Algeria’s Sami Kherouf.
Additional to the contests for the lower places, on Sunday 4th August, the first round and quarter-finals of both the men’s and women’s events will be played.
2019 ITTF-Africa Cup: Newsletter (Friday 2nd August)
2019 ITTF-Africa Cup: Newsletter (Saturday 3rd August)