Egyptian duo Omar Assar and Dina Meshref successfully retained their titles at the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup on Monday 5th August in Lagos, Nigeria to qualify for the Men’s and Women’s World Cups later this year.
ASSAR OVERCOMES ARUNA
The no.3 seed in the men’s event, Omar Assar (EGY) was imperious as he accounted for the host nation favourite and top seed Quadri Aruna (NGR) in the semi-final (11-6, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7, 11-3) before overcoming Ahmed Saleh (EGY) in a hard-fought final (10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 12-14, 11-3, 9-11, 11-3).
Aruna duly finished in third place after winning his play-off against Sami Kherouf (ALG) (11-6, 12-10, 11-5). The no.8 seed had lost his semi-final against no.2 seed Saleh (11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-2).
Victory for Assar ensures that he will be making his third career appearance at the ITTF Men’s World Cup, having previously qualified in 2015 (Halmstad, Sweden) and in 2017 (Liège, Belgium). The 2019 tournament will be held in Chengdu, China between 29th November – 1st December.
“It was a very tough tournament for me, which started with a knee injury, then I recovered on the second day. I am very happy with this victory and now I will keep training hard as I try to reach another goal in the German league, seizing the next challenge.” Omar Assar
SEVENTH HEAVEN FOR MESHREF
Dina Meshref (EGY) will be making a sensational seventh career appearance at the ITTF Women’s World Cup after she once again emerged as women’s champion at the ITTF Africa Cup.
The 25-year-old top seed defeated cousin and no.4 seed Yousra Helmy in straight games (11-9, 11-9, 11-1, 11-8) to claim the title, having overcome no.2 seed Offiong Edem (NGR) with the loss of just one game (11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8). Edem gained third place, accounting for Fadwa Garci (TUN) in five games (8-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8).
Meshref, who made her Women’s World Cup debut in 2011 (Singapore) has been an ever-present since 2014 (Linz, Austria). The 2019 tournament will be held in Chengdu, China between 18th – 20th October.
“I feel very happy to have defended my title and qualified for the Women’s World Cup. I really hope I can represent Africa in the best possible way.” Dina Meshref
STEPPING ONTO THE WORLD STAGE
The ITTF World Cups represent the second most prestigious events on the international table tennis calendar, after the ITTF World Championships, and they count towards the Grand Slam (Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cups).
Each of the 2019 ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cups will feature 20 of the globe’s top table tennis players, 18 of whom will have qualified through their respective Continental Cups, together with the ITTF World Champion and a wildcard.
Here are the players who have qualified so far for the 2019 ITTF World Cups:
- Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships: MA Long (CHN); LIU Shiwen (CHN).
- China Construction Bank 2019 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup: Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER), Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR), Timo BOLL (GER); Petrissa SOLJA (GER), Bernadette SZOCS (ROU), Sofia POLCANOVA (AUT).
- Universal 2019 ITTF Pan American Cup: Hugo CALDERANO (BRA), Kanak JHA (USA); Adriana DIAZ (PUR), ZHANG Mo (CAN).
- Lion 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup: FAN Zhendong (CHN), Koki NIWA (JPN), Tomokazu HARIMOTO (JPN); ZHU Yuling (CHN), Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN), FENG Tianwei (SGP).
- 2019 ITTF Oceania Cup: Heming HU (AUS); Jian Fang LAY (AUS).
- 2019 ITTF Africa Cup: Omar ASSAR (EGY); Dina MESHREF (EGY).
The remaining players to qualify for the 2019 ITTF World Cups will be revealed on Wednesday 7th August.