by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
The only hiccup experienced was at the quarter-final stage of the women’s team event when the top seeded Egyptian trio comprising Farah Abdel-Aziz, Yousra Helmy and Dina Meshref found Ethiopia’s Gidey Abrha, Marta Gulti and Meron Mekuria more than ready for the challenge.
Marta Gulti and Meron Mekuria beat Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy in the opening match of the fixture; however, for the Ethiopians that was to be their only success, a 3-1 Egyptian win was the outcome. A semi-final place secured, no changes to the selection, there was no charity spared; a 3-0 victory margin was recorded against Algeria’s Katia Kessaci, Lynda Loghraibi and Nouari Widad.
“It is going to be tough match because we have been meeting in finals for the last five years; I hope we can overcome Nigeria this year again just like we did in Congo Brazzaville four years ago. It is double pressure for the two teams because the gold medal and the ticket to Tokyo is at stake. We are sure of our victory but it will be a tough match for both teams.” Yousra Helmy
Impressive from Egypt; it was the same from Nigeria, the no.2 seeds. Selecting Cecilia Akpan, Offiong Edem and Olufunke Oshonaike, a 3-0 quarter-final win was secured against Morocco’s Noah Arangay, Raina Bennani and Innes Outolla. Later, the same margin of victory was achieved in opposition to Tunisia’s Abir Haj Salah, Fadwa Garci and Safa Saidani; confidence boosting wins, like Yousra Helmy, Olufunke Oshonaike was in an upbeat mood and positive about the final outcome.
“We are set for the Egyptians and we are just looking to grab the gold medal and the ticket to Japan. We have been unlucky against them in most of our previous meetings but this time around I hope the luck will come our way. My teammates are in good shape and we are all playing well. We have dreamt about the ticket and gold medal; nothing can stop us from mounting the podium.” Olufunke Oshonaike
Success in style, it was the same in the men’s team event. The top seeds, Nigeria, selecting Quadri Aruna, Olajide Omotayo and Segun Toriola recorded a 3-0 win against Morocco’s Salim Karam, Mohammed Krichel and Saad Zine El-Abidine, before securing their place in the final by repeating the score-line against Congo Brazzaville’s Christ Bienatiki, Saheed Idowu and Michel Lignandzi.
Similarly, it was the same imposing path to the final for the no.2 seeds, Egypt’s Khalid Assar, Omar Assar and Ahmed Ali Saleh. They accounted for bronze medallists four years ago in Congo Brazzaville, Ghana’s Derek Abrefa, Samuel Akayade and Felix Lartey, prior to posting a similarly most impressive success in opposition to Tunisia’s Omar Amous, Adam Hmam and Thameur Mamia.
The finals of both the men’s team and women’s team events will be played on Friday 23rd August.
Men’s Team: Semi-Finals
NIGERIA 3-0 CONGO BRAZZAVILLE
Segun Toriola / Omotayo Olajide v Christ Bientiki / Saheed Idowu 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-4; Quadri Aruna v Michel Lgnandzi 9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-8; Omotayo Olajide v Christ Bienatiki 11-5, 11-3, 11-8.
EGYPT 3-0 TUNISIA
Khalid Assar / Ahmed Ali Saleh v Thameur Mamia / Adam Hmam 12-14, 12-10, 11-5, 11-8; Omar Assar v Omar Amous 17-15, 11-1, 11-3; Ahmed Ali Saleh v Adam Hmam 11-6, 11-8, 11-6.
Women’s Team: Semi-Finals
EGYPT 3-0 ALGERIA
Farah Abdel-Aziz / Yousra Helmy v Katia Kessaci, Lynda Loghraibi 11-4, 11-2, 9-11, 11-1; Dina Meshref v Nuari Widad 11-2, 11-3, 11-5; Farah Abdel-Aziz v Katia Kessaci Katia 11-5, 11-8, 13-11.
NIGERIA 3-0 TUNISIA
Cecila Akpan / Offiong Edem v Abir Haj Salah / Fadwa Garci 11-4, 11-2, 9-11, 11-1; Olufunke Oshonaike v Safa Saidani 12-10, 11-8, 11-1; Offiong Edem v Fadwa Garci 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-3.