25 Feb 2020

Making his presence felt last year at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments, especially in Indonesia where he reached the penultimate round; on Monday 24th February in Tunis, Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw once again made his mark.

Contrary to expectations at the 2020 ITTF-Africa Top 16 tournament, he ended the opening day in first place in his initial stage group; moreover, he accounted for a player who, likewise in 2019, made a lasting impression.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

The no.5 seed, after accounting for Algeria’s Larbi Bouriah, the no.14 seed, as anticipated (11-4, 11-7, 11-8), the 27 year old overcame Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo, the no.3 seed (11-7, 5-11, 11-3, 11-8), the quite sensational winner last August of the men’s singles event in Rabat at the African Games.

A successful start to his campaign, Ibrahima Diaw ended the day by overcoming Congo Democratic’s Gedeon Kassa, the no.11 seed (11-3, 11-2, 11-6) to complete his first phase matches without defeat. The consolation for Olajide Omotayo was that the loss to Ibrahima Diaw was his only defeat, thus second place and progress to the quarter-finals was secured.

Second place in the group was the end result for Olajide Omotayo (Photo: Moez Fellah)


Four groups in the first stage of play in both the men’s and women’s events, players finishing in first and second positions in each group advanced to the quarter-finals.

Surprise quarter-finalist

Problems for Olajide Omotayo but a place in the main draw; however, there was one surprise name to book a last eight place.

The host nation’s Adem Hmam, the no.9 seed and thus the third highest rated player in his group, duly secured runners up spot.

After losing to Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, the top seed, in his opening contest (11-5, 14-12, 11-4), he accounted for the Ivory Coast’s Kizito Oba Oba, the no.16 seed (12-10, 11-9, 13-11), prior to upsetting the order of merit but beating Algeria’s Sami Kherouf, the no.7 seed (6-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-8).

Adem Hmam delighted local supporters (Photo: Moez Fellah)


Quadri Aruna, as expected, remained unbeaten to secure first place, a situation that also applied to the Egyptian duo Ahmed Ali Saleh, the no.2 seed and Omar Assar, the no.4 seed; according to status respective second places were reserved by Togo’s Kokou Dodji Fanny, the no.8 seed and Congo Democratic’s Saheed Idowu.

Men’s Singles: Quarter-Finals

  • 12.20 Quadri Aruna Nigeria (1) v Kokou Dodji Fanny Togo (8)
  • 12.20 Olajide Omotayo Nigeria (3) v Omar Assar Egypt (4)
  • 12.20 Ibrahima Diaw Senegal (5) v Saheed Idowu Congo Brazzaville (6)
  • 12.20 Adam Hmam Tunisia (9) v Ahmed Al Saleh Egypt (2)

Good news for Tunisia in the guise of Adem Hmam, their one representative in the men’s event; in the counterpart women’s competition it was even better news. A limit of two players per national association eligible both Fadwa Garci and Safa Saidani booked main draw places.

Safa Saidani

Pride of place went to Safa Saidini, the no.10 seed and thus not expected to reserve a quarter-final place.

After losing to Nigeria’s Offiong Edem, the no.2 seed (8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6), she beat South Africa’s Simeen Mookrey, the no.8 seed (11-2, 11-6, 11-9) to reserve second position. Offiong Edem, having one match earlier overcome Simeen Mookrey (11-3, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7) duly secured first place.

Safa Saidani excelled expectations to reach the quarter-finals (Photo: Moez Fellah)


Progress for Safa Saidini, it was the same for Fadwa Garci but as anticipated, the no.7 seed, after losing to Egypt’s Dina Meshref, the top seed (11-9, 11-5, 11-7), she defeated Nigeria’s Fatimo Bello, the no.9 seed (11-7, 11-4, 11-5) to gain runners up spot. In the opening match, Dina Meshref had beaten Fatimo Bello (11-9, 11-4, 12-14, 11-6) and thus reserved first place.

Leading name top groups

First and second positions as anticipated, it was the same in the remaining groups. Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou, the no.3 seed finished ahead of Algeria’s Katia Kessaci, the no.6 seed; likewise it was top spot for Egypt’s Yousra Helmy, the no.4 seed with Lynda Loghraibi, the no.5 seed, also from Algeria, in runners up spot.

Testing times for Yousra Helmy (Photo: Moez Fellah)


However, life was not straightforward for Yousra Helmy, she needed the full five games to beat Nandeshwaree Jalim from Mauritius, the no.11 seed (11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 13-11), as she did later in the day against Lynda Loghraibi (10-12, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7).

Women’s Singles: Quarter-Finals

  • 11.30 Dina Meshref Egypt (1) v Lynda Loghraibi Algeria (5)
  • 11.30 Safa Saidani Tunisia (10) v Sarah Hanffou Cameroon (3)
  • 11.30 Yousra Helmy Egypt (4) v Katia Kessaci Algeria (6)
  • 11.30 Fadwa Garci Tunisia (7) v Offiong Edem Nigeria (2)

The quarter-finals and semi-finals of both the men’s and women’s events will be played on Tuesday 25th February.

2020 ITTF-Africa Top 16 Cup Ibrahima Diaw

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Day 3 - 2020 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup