Abuja – Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna and Egypt’s Dina Meshref will represent Africa at the 2016 ITTF World Cups after the duo emerged champions at the ITTF-Africa Top 16 Cup in Khartoum, Sudan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that throughout the event which ended on Monday, Aruna showed the form which catapulted him to becoming the 2014 ITTF Male Table Tennis Star.
The second seeded Nigerian accounted for Egypt’s Omar Assar, the top seed, winning 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 in the final match.
The victory was a sweet revenge for Aruna.
He had lost to Assar 12 months ago to miss out on the priceless ITTF World Cup qualification position and has lost the last four encounters against the African number one.
“I felt so good after the quarter-final. It was 50-50 against Omar, my forehand was the key to winning.
“I lost the first game, and if I had lost the second, I would have lost the match,’’ the 27-year-old said after lifting the trophy.
Aruna now gets a chance to beat his career best performance of a Men’s World Cup quarter-final, which he achieved in 2014.
Commenting on returning to the World Cup stage, Aruna said: “Everybody knows me now and wants to beat me. It will be even harder to achieve my goal.’’
On her part, Meshref once again proved herself to be the queen of African table tennis, as she strolled to her third consecutive ITTF-Africa Top 16 title.
The top seeded Meshref was too good for Nigeria’s Offiong Edem, the number four seed, in the final.
She won 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 to book a third straight appearance at the ITTF Women’s World Cup.
“I am very happy to win the Cup again. It’s very special for me. It also means I will participate in the Women’s World Cup this year, and each year I am getting better results in that competition”, explained Meshref.
“Today (Monday) the toughest match was against Edem. She is a very strong player![pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
“Against Han Xing, the service was the key. In that area I played better than before.’’
The ITTF World Cups are the second most prestigious events on the international calendar, with only 20 of the top table tennis players qualifying through their respective Continental Cups.
The Liebherr 2016 Men’s World Cup will be held Oct. 1 to Oct. 3 in Saarbrucken, Germany.
The 2016 ITTF Women’s World Cup will hold on Oct. 7 to Oct. 9 in a location to be announced.
Players who have already secured their places at the ITTF World Cups along with Aruna and Meshref include Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Germany), Shen Yanfei and Joao Monteiro (Portugal).
The rest are Alexander Shibaev (Russia), Hu Melek (Turkey) and Liu Jia (Austria) who all qualified at the recent ITTF-Europe Top 16.
The attention in Sudan now turns to the ITTF-African Qualification Tournament for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with play starting on Tuesday.(NAN)