03 Nov 2019

Proceedings on the opening day of play, Saturday 2nd November, at the inaugural 2019 ITTF Western Africa Challenge in Abidjan completed; the leading names in the men’s and women’s singles events were very much on course to achieve their avowed goals.

In the men’s singles event, Benin’s Monday Oladele Olabiyi and Ghana Derek Abrefa, the respective top two seeds, booked semi-final places; a situation that applied to Nigeria’s Fatimo Bello and Esther Oribamese, the leading names in the women’s singles competition.

by Ian Marshall, Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer)

Safely through the group stage, Monday Oladele Olabiyi accounted for Burkina Faso’s Abdoul-Razack Derra and colleague Jimoh Amusa to reserve his place in the penultimate round.

Likewise, Derek Abrefa secured first position in his group prior to overcoming Sierra Leone’s Bredford Sawyer and Nigeria’s Jamiu Ayanwale, the no.9 seed. Undoubtedly it was a very determined Derek Abrefa; prior to play commencing he had been in a very resolute frame of mind.

“I am here to show what I can do because I was not happy with my performance at the African Games. I am sure I can take the title to Ghana. It is going to be tough but this will also bring out the best in me. Help me Lord as I battle on the table to lift Ghana’s image. It is another opportunity to lift Ghana’s image on the African continent. Lord strengthen me as I prepare for the task in Abidjan.” Derek Abrefa

Derek Abrefa in determined mood (Photo by Jono Searle / Getty Images)
Disappointment for Jamiu Ayanwale

Alas for Jamiu Ayanwale, he was not able to fulfil his aspirations.

“It is unfortunate that I missed the Egypt Junior Open but having trained well for the Egypt tournament, I can now use the knowledge acquired to win this tournament. I care less for the seeding list as I am here for business.” Jamiu Ayanwale

At the semi-final stage Monday Olabiyi faces Emmanuel Commey, the no.6 seed and like Derek Abrefa from Ghana; in the opposite half of the draw, the Ivory Coast’s Oba Kizito Oba opposes Derek Abrefa.

Following the group stage Emmanuel Commey, the no.6 seed, accounted for Liberia’s Lasana Weh; followed by success against the Ivory Coast’s Ange Aimé Kouassi. In the adjacent half of the draw Oba Kizito Oba overcame Burkina Faso’s Ousseini Tapsoba and Nigeria’s Emmanuel Augustine, the no.8 seed, a contest in which he had to recover from a three games to two deficit.

“I am so happy with the huge support from the fans because their support really inspired me even when I was 2-3 down. It was massive support for me and I look forward to such in the semi-final; when the match was 2-3, I knew if I could come back I can win. The fighting spirit and the huge support from the fans were the ingredients I needed to overcome my opponent. I am happy to make my country proud and I am urging the fans to come out en masse and support me in the semi-final.” Oba Kizoto Oba

Emmanuel Commey safely through to the semi-finals (Photo: Meite Alikal)
Similar for leading women

Impressive performances in the women’s singles event; it was very much the same in the women’s singles competition.

The group stage of play negotiated, Fatimo Bello accounted for Togo’s Eli Akouto Amegee to reserve her place in the penultimate round where she faces Benin’s 18 year old Ziadath Olaide Akadiri. In the main draw Ziadath Olaide Akadiri beat Ghana’s Lynda Andoor, the no.4 seed, prior to overcoming the Ivory Coast’s Salie Ange Tatiana Aka.

“I never believed I would be playing in the semi-final because I was not seeded for the competition. Even the quarter-final match was a bit difficult for me because my opponent was playing with pimples which we never made use in Benin. I am so happy that I controlled the game and qualified for the semi-final.” Ziadath Olaide Akadiri

Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, like Fatimo Bello, Esther Oribamise received a direct entry from the group stage to the semi-final where she ousted Togo’s Fanaida Amah; she now confronts the host nation’s Akoua Nadia Kamenan, the first round winner against Koundou Touk Boubacar, the penultimate round victor in opposition to Ghana’s Cynthia Kwabi.

Ziadath Olaide Akadiri, excelled expectations (Photo: Meite Alikal)
Official pleased

Success for the leading names and also it was success for the host organising committee, Kanate Ali, Deputy Secretary General Fédération Ivoirienne de Tennis de Table, was particularly delighted.

“I am so excited that within a short time, we were able to stage this tournament. Mobilising all the teams was a challenge but with the huge support from ITTF, this was sorted out and we have 11 out of the 15 countries that made up the region. The usual bottlenecks synonymous with the first day were there but we believe we have learnt from hosting this competition; this has again shown our ability to stage major competitions, having hosted a 2018 World Junior Circuit tournament and African Junior Championship successfully,” Kanate Ali

Notably present to add to the occasion was the national football teams’ supporters club, the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire, they added an array of colour to the venue.

Football supporters adding colour to the occasion (Photo: Meite Alikal)


2019 ITTF Western Africa Challenge: Entries (Saturday 2nd November)

2019 ITTF Western Africa Challenge: Men’s Singles – Group Stage (Saturday 2nd November)

2019 ITTF Western Africa Challenge: Men’s Singles – Main Draw (Saturday 2nd November)

2019 ITTF Western Africa Challenge: Women’s Singles – Group Stage (Saturday 2nd November)

2019 ITTF Western Africa Challenge: Women’s Singles – Main Draw (Saturday 2nd November)

2019 ITTF Western Africa Challenge: Bulletin (Saturday 2nd November)

General News Derek Abrefa Fatimo bello Oba Kizito Oba Monday Oladele Olabiyi Esther Orimbamise