by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Press Officer
Pundits do not consider the Mauritius trio of Nandeshwaree Jalim and the Hosenally sisters – Ashfani and Oumehani – title contenders.
Not anymore! In fact, bookmakers are now scrambling to rework the odds of the trio recording more spectacular upsets, following scintillating performances on the first day of action. It catapulted the youngsters to the vantage position of rubbing shoulders with the continent’s major nations.
Drawn in the same group as Egypt, South Africa and Cameroon, Jalim, Ashfani and Oumehani humbled their older and more experienced opponents with convincing wins over South Africa and Cameroon.
The surprise team of the day, led by 20-year-old Jalim, started their onslaught against South Africa with the Hosenally siblings rising to the occasion to record a stunning 3-2 win.
In the afternoon session, the Mauritius girls returned to the table to restate their intention to conquer with a flawless 3-0 win over hosts, Cameroon, thus remaining unbeaten in the group.
Scheduled in the final group fixture against number one seeds, Egypt, Jalim says they are unfazed by the pedigree of their opponents.
“I believe we are going to be the surprise team of this tournament because nobody considered us a threat or title contenders. But we came here with a mission to prove a point, which is that we are coming up. We are not afraid of any team. We are ready to challenge for the top four in the team event. We have worked hard to get to this stage, and we will work harder to remain up there in the game.
I am happy to have teammates who are like my family and we united in our purpose of coming for this competition from our bases in France.
We are also fortunate to have the father of Ashfani and Oumehani as our coach. The bond in the team is another weapon we have that has continued to give us the edge.” Nandeshwaree Jalim.
Ashfani, 14 years old, is making her senior debut in Yaoundé. She continues to glow with confidence through her performance so far in the competition. From all indications, she is poised to help the team triumph, despite the experience and age of her opponents.
Alongside, her 18-year-old sister, Oumehani and Jalim, the trio from Mauritius is shaping up to be the giant killers in this tournament.
The question on the lips of the fans here now is: Will the Egyptians prove to be the next scalps to claim by Jalim, Oumehani and Ashfani?
Day two action will provide the answer.
However, whatever may be the case, everyone here in Yaoundé is sure of one thing; this Mauritius trio of confident and competent players is a team to watch out for in the near future.